New Delhi: Putting an end to the long wait for the COVID-19 vaccines, the union government on Saturday announced that the nationwide inoculation drive will begin from January 16. The date has been decided keeping in mind the forthcoming festivals like Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu etc. Priority will be given to the healthcare workers and the frontline workers, estimated to be around 3 crores in number, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities numbering around 27 crore.
“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,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday held a meeting to review the COVID-19 situation in the country, potential threat from the new UK mutant virus and vaccination plan. The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to PM, Health Secretary, and other senior officials. The PM will now have a virtual meeting with the chief ministers on Monday on this issue.
India till date has over 1.04 crore cases and over 1.50 lakh fatalities due to COVID-19. In the last 24 hours 18, 222 fresh cases and 228 new deaths have been recorded. The total number of people with the new mutated strain of UK virus has now reached 90.
According to officials, the vaccination exercise will be conducted utilising experience of elections (booth strategy) and Universal Immunization Program (UIP) without compromising existing healthcare services, especially national programs and primary health care.
The PM was also apprised about the Co-WIN Vaccine Delivery Management System that will provide real time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Emergency Use Authorisation or Accelerated Approval has been granted by the Drug Controller General of India for Covishield (by SII) and Covaxin (Bharat Biotech). Central government is in the process of procuring the vaccines that will be delivered to main hubs in each zone and taken to different parts of the country from there.
“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 79 lakh beneficiaries have been already registered on the platform,” said health ministry officials. More than 61,000 programme managers, 2 lakh vaccinators and 3.7 lakh other vaccination team members have been trained for the vaccine drive.