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Health minister to visit Tamil Nadu tomorrow to personally review COVID-19 vaccine dry run

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Countrywide vaccine dry run in 736 districts across 33 States/UTs tomorrow

As the country prepares for the COVID-19 vaccine roll out, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare will be visiting the State of Tamil Nadu tomorrow. During his visit, Dr. Harsh Vardhan will personally review the preparedness and oversee the Dry Run operations at the scheduled sites. A massive countrywide Mock Drill to prepare for the COVID19 vaccination is being conducted tomorrow at 736 districts across 33 States/UTs.

The Union Health Minister will visit the sessions site at Government General Hospital, Chennai followed by the one at Government Omandurar Hospital, Chennai. In the afternoon Dr Harsh Vardhan 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, the health minister will visit the vaccination centre at Chengalpattu. He will be visiting the Hindustan Bio-Tech Campus at Chengalpattu after concluding his supervision at these sites.

In his video conference with the Health Ministers and Principal Secretaries/ Additional Chief Secretaries of the States/UTs to review the preparedness for the nationwide Mock Drill on the COVID vaccination scheduled for tomorrow, January 8, Dr. Harsh Vardhan requested all State Health Ministers to personally keep tab on disinformation regarding the approved vaccines, warning that “miscreants might derail the whole exercise, set the clock back by years.”

He further urged that they “ensure effective National Immunisation Day on 17th Jan to sustain India’s Polio-Free status.”

Dr. Harsh Vardhan started by reminding everyone that the country has completed a year of successfully battling the pandemic with the first meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) of MoHFW on COVID being held on January 8 last year.

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 Shri 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. He credited this shift in India’s trajectory to the Atmanirbhar Yojana led by the Hon. Prime Minister.

Dr Harsh 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 back.

The Health Minister highlighted the 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 programme 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 his State counterparts 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 immunisation drives with respect to Polio, Rubella and Measles and also narrated his personal experience from the early nineties of having galvanised the 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 COVID-19 vaccination”, he stated.

Following this, he reminded his state counterparts to also ensure that the National Immunisation Day (NID) scheduled on January 17, 2021 is also given due importance. He requested the State/UT 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. Drawing attention to some neighbours still having cases of wild polio, he said that it is important that the NIDs are effectively rolled out.

Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that to strengthen the capacity of our human resource for COVID-19 vaccine introduction and roll-out, detailed training modules have been developed for different categories of vaccine handlers and administrators including medical officers, vaccinators, alternate vaccinators, cold chain handlers, supervisors, data managers, ASHA coordinators and all others involved in the implementation process at different levels. He said the entire operational planning and IT platform has been field tested on several occasions before the second national dry run of tomorrow. The earlier national mock drill of January 2, helped iron out any glitches in the final execution and further refinement of the operational procedures. The feedback from most of the States/UTs was satisfactory conduct of the dry run, as per the PIB statement.

Seeking their personal indulgence, leadership and keen oversight for tomorrow’s national dry run, Dr Harsh Vardhan requested the Health Ministers to be vigilant against rumours and disinformation campaigns regarding the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. He rubbished the rumours being propagated on social media which are raising doubts in the mind of the public 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.

The State/UT ministers shared their feedback and experience from the past dry run exercises and the preparedness for the tomorrow’s exercise. They informed about the training sessions held for vaccinators, updation of the database of beneficiaries, cold chain management, session allocation, reporting of Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) etc.

(Edits by Team EH)

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