Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday sought keen oversight and personal indulgence of health ministers, principal secretaries and additional chief secretaries of states and union territories to lead the second nationwide mock drill on the COVID-19 vaccination scheduled to be held on January 8.
The drill will be held at three session sites of 736 districts across 33 states and union territories, the health ministry said in a statement.
Vardhan interacted with the health ministers and principal secretaries and additional chief secretaries through video conference to review the preparedness for the mock drill.
“The objective of the mock drill on COVID-19 vaccination is to simulate the actual vaccine administration event,” the ministry said.
The entire planning of the vaccination drive including beneficiary registration, microplanning and vaccination at the planned session site will be tested under the leadership of district collector or district magistrate.
The dry run will also familiarise the state, district, block and hospital level officers on all aspects of COVID-19 roll-out.
“This activity will help administrators in strengthening the linkages between planning, implementation and reporting mechanisms, identification of any residual challenges prior to the actual implementation and to provide confidence to the programme managers at all levels to carry out a smooth implementation of the vaccination drive,” the ministry said.
Seeking their personal indulgence, leadership and keen oversight for tomorrow”s national dry run, Vardhan requested the health ministers to be vigilant against rumours and disinformation campaigns regarding the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, the statement said.
He rubbished rumours on social media regarding the vaccine side-effects and said, “These miscreants might derail the whole exercise, set the clock back by years.”
He urged the state health authorities to work with the multiple stakeholders and the youth to spread the right information and dispel rumours and mistruths being spread about the COVID-19.
As the country prepares for the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, Vardhan will be visiting Tamil Nadu Friday.
“During his visit, Dr. Harsh Vardhan will personally review the preparedness and oversee the dry run operations at the scheduled site,” the ministry said.
He will visit the sessions site at Government General Hospital, Chennai followed by the one at Government Omandurar Hospital. In the afternoon he will visit the private vaccination centre in Apollo Hospital, Chennai after a brief visit to the General Medical Store Depot (GMSD) in Periamedu. This is one of the four national vaccine storage facilities, the other three at Mumbai, Kolkata and Karnal.
Thereafter, Vardhan will visit the vaccination centre at Chengalpattu. He will be visiting the Hindustan Bio-Tech Ltd. campus at Chengalpattu after concluding his supervision at these sites.
Restating his appreciation and unwavering support to the tireless work of the frontline workers who are working on the ground, he also mentioned how Prime Minister Narendra Modi”s dynamic, and unwavering leadership has ensured that India not only the highest recovery rate in the world but also a beacon of hope for other countries who are dependent on India”s export of N95 masks, PPE kits for their own containment efforts, the statement said.
Vardhan appreciated the tireless efforts being made by the multiple stakeholders including the central and state government officials and the medical community who have worked proactively in the last few months to compose and disseminate detailed guidelines on the upcoming vaccination drive, train the vaccine administrators.
He also expressed gratitude to the scientific community who have worked tirelessly to bring the country two vaccines which have recently received the emergency use authorisation few days ago.
The health minister highlighted the unique digital platform, Co-WIN, repurposed from the e-VIN platform that will provide real time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualised tracking of beneficiaries of the COVID-19 vaccine.
This platform will assist the program 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 78 lakh beneficiaries have been already registered on the platform, he stated.
The minister reassured all state health ministers that the country”s cold chain infrastructure has been sufficiently upgraded to ensure last mile delivery and that adequate supplies of syringes and other logistics have also been provided for:
He referred to India”s several successful immunization drives with respect to Polio, Rubella and Measles and also narrated his personal experience from the early nineties of having galvanised efforts of millions of Indians which eventually led to the eradication of Polio from the country.
“The rich experience of the country from the UIP and the anti-polio campaign are being used to strengthen the processes of COVID19 vaccination,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.
Following this, he reminded his state counterparts to also ensure that the National Immunisation Day (NID) scheduled on January 17 is also given due importance.
He further requested the health ministers to ensure that non-COVID essential services are not adversely impacted.
“It is with the collaborative efforts of the States/UTs and multiple partners that India and 11 other countries of the South East Asia region of WHO have been declared polio free. It should be our endeavour to sustain India”s Polio-free status,” he stated.
“The earlier national mock drill of 2nd Jan 2021 helped to iron out any glitches in the final execution and further refinement of the operational procedures. The feedback from most of the states and UTs was satisfactory conduct of the dry run,” the statement said.
The health ministers shared their feedback and experience from the past dry run exercises and the preparedness for Friday”s exercise.