Prepare To Deliver The Covid Vaccine

The Covid-19 vaccine will be available sooner or later. The time to begin rolling out the logistics for its distribution and administration to about 60-70% of the population is now. An expert panel led by NITI Aayog’s Vinod Paul is on the job. It must develop a model that has complete buy-in from the states, draws on existing capacities utilised for large immunisation schemes, such as the measles-rubella vaccine administered to 405 million children and the Mission Indradhanush campaign for 90% immunisation coverage of all children. The elimination of smallpox in the 1970s and of polio recently testify to our capacity for mass vaccination.

Identification of recipients and logistics is critical.

Frontline workers in healthcare and security, persons with comorbidities and those above the age of 65 should get priority, roughly 400 million, say experts. Setting up a reliable distribution and delivery network is more complex.

Innovation is key. Such as building on the election network in which 11 million poll workers set up polling stations for 900 million voters in just about six weeks so that no person needs to travel more than two kilometres. For vaccines, temperature-controlled storage, access to syringes and needles, proper disposal of medical waste and trained personnel to administer the vaccine must be factored in. Afoolproof distribution plan is critical to ensure that all persons have access; without it, the number of doses available in country will not matter.

The Paul committee must assess the infrastructural capacity of states for vaccine delivery. The Auxiliary Nurse Midwife-Anganwadi Worker-Accredited Social Health Activist network must be supplemented, training people in each block to serve as auxiliary health workers to administer the vaccine. In developing the plan, the committee must consult widely, invite suggestions. Maintaining the cold chain for the vaccine, if the vaccine calls for it, would mean early procurement and installation of equipment.

The Centre must have oversight and control over delivery, with states implementing the plan under central guidance.

Courtesy - The Economic Times.



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