Dr V K Paul, NITI Aayog Member, Health, and chair of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 told the Indian Express that the government is about to release the exact schedule of the vaccination drive very soon. He further said that the health authorities will begin administering the Coronavirus shots in the coming days as dry run has already been conducted in different parts of the country.
Among the 30 vaccination hubs located by the authorities are cities like Chennai, Lucknow and Panchkula and Delhi. After large consignments of the vaccine shots have been shipped to these vaccination hubs by the manufacturers, the state governments will take charge of furthers supplying the vaccine shots to various cities and towns of the state. In the very first vaccine drive, the vaccine doses will be directly dispatched to various public and private hospitals where the health workers will be the first one to get vaccinated. As far as the number of vaccine doses are concerned, the Serum Institute of India (SII) has readied about 70 million doses by January, according to the Indian Express. Serum Chief Adar Poonawalla had earlier said that the SII will increase its monthly capacity to about 100 million doses starting from February. Currently, the monthly capacity of the SII is pegged at 50-60 million vaccine doses.
Terming the vaccination of about 70 lakh health workers as the first wave of the first phase of vaccination drive, Dr Paul said that it would be easier to vaccinate health workers as they are already present at the healthcare facilities. Asked about the possible timeline to complete the vaccination of the health workers, Dr Paul said that the authorities are aiming at completing the vaccination at the fastest speed possible and the health workers are expected to be vaccinated in about two-three months time.
Frontline workers and people above 50 years of age will be the next lot to be vaccinated in the subsequent drives of vaccination. Dr Paul also said that the vaccination drive will pick up pace once healthcare workers have been vaccinated. Talking about the infrastructure required for the vaccination at such a large scale, Dr Paul said that in the initial phases the vaccination will be administered from the healthcare facilities and only in its subsequent drives the booth-based model will be implemented to vaccinate more than 26 crore people aged above 50.
In accordance with the government’s Covid-19 vaccines guidelines, the health authorities are aiming to administer the vaccine to over 30 crore residents of the country in the first phase which includes doctors, health workers, frontline workers, people with co-morbidities and people aged above 50. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has estimated that the first phase vaccination drive should be over by the end of August this year. The minister had also said that the beginning of administering the Coronavirus vaccine shots will ensue in the month of January.