A person being "vaccinated" during the dry run of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, in Amritsar on January 8, 2021.
A person being "vaccinated" during the dry run of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, in Amritsar on January 8, 2021.Deepak Sharma/IANS

India's COVID-19 vaccination drive to start on January 16

New Delhi, January 9, 2021

The countrywide vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), one of the largest such immunisation exercises ever in the world, will begin from January 16, after the festivals such as Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh and Bihu in different parts of the country in the days before that.

This was decided after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to conduct a detailed review of the status of COVID-19 in the country as well as the preparedness of the States and Union Territories (UTs) for the vaccination campaign.

Later, Modi said on Twitter that the launch of the vaccination campaign would be a "landmark step" in the fight against COVID-19.

"On 16th January, India takes a landmark step forward in fighting COVID-19. Starting that day, India’s nation-wide vaccination drive begins. Priority will be given to our brave doctors, healthcare workers, frontline workers including Safai Karamcharis," he added.

The meeting was attended by the Cabinet Secretary, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, the Health Secretary, and other senior officials concerned.

An official press release said the Prime Minister took a detailed and comprehensive review of the status of COVID management covering various issues.

Emergency Use Authorisation or Accelerated Approval has been granted by the national regulator for two vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin) which have established safety and immunogenicity, the release noted.

Modi was also briefed about the preparedness status of the Centre in close collaboration with the State and UT governments for roll-out of the vaccine in the near future.

"The vaccination exercise is underpinned by the principles of people’s participation (Jan Bhagidari); utilizing experience of elections (booth strategy) and Universal Immunization Program (UIP); no compromise of existing healthcare services, especially national programs and primary health care; no compromise on scientific and regulatory norms, other SOPs; and an orderly and smooth implementation driven by technology," the release said.

The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine will provide priority to the healthcare workers and the frontline workers who are estimated to be around 3 crore, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities, numbering around 27 crore.

The Prime Minister was also apprised about the Co-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System. The unique digital platform 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 79 lakh beneficiaries have been already registered on the platform, it said.

As the vaccinators and vaccine administrators comprise a crucial pillar of the vaccination exercise, their training process was detailed out.

As many as 2,360 participants were trained during national level Training of Trainers which comprised state immunization officers, cold chain officers, IEC officials, development partners, and so on. More than 61,000 programme managers, 2 lakh vaccinators and 3.7 lakh other vaccination team members have been trained so far as part of trainings at States, Districts and Block levels.

The Prime Minister was also apprised on the three phases of dry runs conducted in recent days. The third dry run was conducted yesterday across 615 districts covering 4,895 session sites in 33 States/UTs.

"After the detailed review, it was decided that in view of the forthcoming festivals including Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu etc., the COVID19 vaccination will start from 16th January 2021," the release added.


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