COVID-19: India's vaccination drive may span over a year, group-wise

(This story originally appeared in on Oct 31, 2020)

NEW DELHI: In an advisory to states on setting up coordination committees for distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine, the health ministry has said introduction of the shots will span over a year with multiple groups being included sequentially, starting from health care workers, while also asking governments to be vigilant about disinformation on social media.

“In all likelihood, the Covid-19 vaccine introduction will span over a year with multiple groups being included sequentially starting from healthcare workers (HCWs). Therefore, it is important to create strong advisory and coordination mechanism at state and district levels to guide the process of Covid-19 vaccine introduction while ensuring minimal disruption of other routine health care services including immunisation,” the Centre has said.

The government has also stressed early tracking of social media to dispel rumours which could impact community acceptance of coronavirus inoculation. “It is anticipated that initially the supply of vaccine will be limited in view of huge demand hence, prioritisation of socio-demographic groups will be done for vaccination and subsequently other groups will be included for vaccination,” the ministry said.

In the letter, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan has suggested setting up of a state steering committee (SSC) chaired by the chief secretary, a state task force (STF) led by additional chief secretary or principal secretary (health), and a district task force (DTF) to be headed by the district magistrate.

This committee will also review the state’s preparatory activities in terms of cold chain preparedness, operational and communication planning, strategies for anticipated state-specific challenges in terms of geographical terrain and network connectivity in ‘hard to reach’ areas.

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