Medical facilities right from urban public health centers, district hospitals to mohalla clinics, even maternity homes and tertiary hospitals will be utilized for India’s biggest vaccination drive. According to the initial plan, the Delhi government will vaccinate 1.8 lakh to 2.25 lakh healthcare workers.
Vaccine cold chains are a network of freezers, cold rooms, cold boxes and carriers that keep the vaccine at just the right temperature during each link on the long journey from the manufacturing line to point of administration. According to World Health Organisation guidelines, cold chains maintain product quality. At present Pune-based Serum Institute’s Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Pfizer India are in the race for emergency use approval in India.
The state-run Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty hospital will be the biggest store facility, spread over 5,000 square meters. According to health officials here, the vaccines will be stored here and then transported to the cold storage points of immunization centres. Delhi also has a cold storage facility in Civil Lines in working condition that can store up to five million doses in a temperature between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius.
All Indian Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), RML, Kasturba Gandhi, Lok Nayak, Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Safdurjung hospitals are among the 609 cold chain points where immunization will be held in Delhi. If required, more facilities will be added in future, officials told IE.
Delhi health officials also have in place the list of 3,500 health care professionals who will be directly involved in the immunization programme. Among them are 700 medical officers will monitor cold chain points and 600 private-sector doctors and 200 from hospitals under cantonment and railway will be conducting the vaccination drive.
According to Maulana Azad Medical College director, Dr Sunil Garg, who is also a health expert for Covid-19 vaccination programme, all the top hospitals in Delhi will be roped in as immunization facilities. These centres will be managed by nodal medical officers who will also be coordinating the programme. Garg further said that the medical officers at the national level have already been trained while the state-level healthcare workers will start training from Monday.
In the cascade-level training programme, medical officers and other officers from various districts will be trained first who will then train their other team members. Garg added responsible communication will further help in downplaying the misconception around Covid-19 vaccine among the general public.
AIIMS medical superintendent, Dr D K Sharma told IE that the hospital already has the adequate infrastructure required to store vaccines as they have been vaccinating for other diseases as well. The institute, however, needs a risk stratification strategy for carrying out the vaccination on health care workers in the first phase.
For the vaccine that requires -70 degrees for storage, if it arrives, they have deep freezers in the research department that can be utilized.
Lok Nayak hospital director, Dr Suresh Kumar also assured of having the right setup to receive vaccines and carry out immunization of its 3,900 healthcare workers in the first phase of the vaccination drive. There will be two inoculators and facilitators at each cold chain facility for injecting vaccines and facilitating the process, officials further informed.