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COVID-19 vaccination dry run held across India
New Delhi, January 2, 2021
Ahead of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare today conducted a nationwide dry run at 285 session sites to test the end-to-end planned operations and the mechanism set up to ensure smooth conduct of the vaccination campaign that is expected to begin soon.
The dry run of the vaccination drive spread across 125 districts covered all States and Union Territories (UTs) with adequate representation of urban and rural districts along with hard-to-reach areas.
Meanwhile, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan visited two mock vaccination sites, GTB Hospital in Shahdara and an Urban Primary Health Centre (UPHC) in Daryaganj, both in Delhi, to review the dry run drill.
Expressing satisfaction at the preparations at the GTB Hospital, the Minister said, “The entire exercise of the vaccination process is being systematically taken forward, including training of personnel for administering the vaccine. Detailed guidelines have been issued to multiple stakeholders after extensive deliberations, paying attention to every minute aspect.”
He expressed appreciation for the tireless efforts being made by multiple stakeholders including the Central and State government officials who have worked proactively in the last few months to ensure the success of this massive operation.
Dr Harsh Vardhan described the digital platform, Co-WIN, repurposed from the e-VIN platform, as a real game-changer. It will provide real-time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The platform will assist the programme managers across all levels through automated session allocation for pre-registered beneficiaries, their verification and for generating a digital certificate upon successful completion of the vaccine schedule. More than 75 lakh beneficiaries have been registered on Co-WIN platform till date, he said.
On the preparedness for ensuring that the vaccine reaches even the remotest corner of the country, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the cold chain infrastructure has been sufficiently upgraded to ensure last-mile delivery. Adequate supplies of syringes and other logistics have also been provided for.
He cautioned the people against falling prey to rumours and disinformation campaigns regarding the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. He rubbished the rumours being propagated on social media raising doubts in the minds of the public regarding side-effects of the vaccine. He urged the media to exercise caution and to behave responsibly and check all facts before publishing or broadcasting any reports.
Dispelling doubts regarding the country’s capability to undertake such a massive vaccination drive, Dr Harsh Vardhan described how India has unparalleled experience in dealing with immunization and running one of the largest immunization programmes in the world. The world has applauded India for its robust Universal Immunization Programmes. The country has conducted several successful immunization drives for Polio, Rubella and Measles. He narrated his personal experience from the early 1990s of having galvanized efforts of millions of Indians which eventually led to the eradication of polio from the country.
“It is as a result of our steadfastness and dedication, that India was declared polio-free in 2014. Our rich learning from the earlier immunisation drives including the polio vaccination campaign are being used to guide our present countrywide COVID19 vaccination campaign,” he added.
At the UPHC in Daryaganj, replying to a question he said, “I have ample personal experience from the Polio Eradication campaign of 1994 about how the people of the country placed their trust in the science of the vaccine rather than the falsehoods and canards being spread by some rumour-mongers.”
The Minister said the entire operational planning and IT platform has been field-tested in four states on December 28-29. Based on the feedback received, certain enhancements have been made in the system. All the State & District officials have been thoroughly trained for conducting this dry run aimed at testing the laid-out mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. This dry run will end with review meetings at the district and state level to discuss the issues and challenges encountered during the exercise. States/UTs have been requested to share the feedback with the Health Ministry for ironing out any possible glitches in the final execution and further refinement of the operational procedures.
Dr Harsh Vardhan also emphasized that India’s proactive and pre-emptive steps have been commended across the world. The Government has exhibited an iron-strong political will in adopting an approach encompassing efficient surveillance and testing, leading to the highest recovery and among the lowest fatality rates in the world, he added.