Dry run evaluation done by Harsh Vardhan, inputs by state ministers
Dry run evaluation: On Thursday, a day before nationwide dry run was carried out for Covid-19 vaccination in 736 districts across India, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan had an interaction with state health ministers. The agenda of meeting was to review logistics and preparedness in place for dry run.
The key suggestions that were forwarded by the ministers included:
Tribal areas must have a provision of air ambulance to tackle any possible adverse reactions to the vaccine
Kashmir valley to have an offline mechanism to update vaccine data citing the 2G restrictions
Vaccine’s second priority group for administration must include elected representatives
Regarding the actual date of vaccine roll-out, Harsh Vardhan replied, “You will get the answer, soon… You will receive clarity on all guidelines well before the actual roll-out.”
The recent public spat between Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute was brought into discussion by Rajasthan Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma, who said that it has raised public confidence issue. “The vaccine manufacturers are terming each other’s vaccine as ‘water’. This weakens people’s confidence in vaccines. Such activities should be stopped.”
States also seeked clarification on registration of second priority group with people over 50 years of age. Odisha’s Naba Kishore Das asked, “When will the 50 plus age group begin registration? When will those below 50 years get the vaccine?”
Kerala Health Minister K K Shailaja suggested that doctors and healthcare personnel working in private clinics must also be registered in priority group.
Chhattisgarh’s Health Minister, T S Singh Deo brought two critical agendas to discussion. He said, “Even during elections, there is a provision of air ambulance. We might have to airlift (people) from some areas if an adverse reaction following immunization is reported. We might need an air ambulance. Wherever there is no direct electricity, we will require solar direct drive (vaccine refrigerators). In CHCs without internet, can VSAT (satellite-based telecommunication) be provided?”
He also asked clarification on vaccine’s shelf life, “When should healthcare workers who have already tested positive be vaccinated? We have not received clear guidelines on this.”
Poor connectivity issues in J&K due to 2G network was talked about by state’s L-G’s office, that said, “We have serious connectivity issues because our UT is under 2G internet network. In the dry run to update the status, we were taking too long. Can there be an offline mechanism, where we could update the data later?”