The Centre has chosen eight districts in four states to conduct a two-dry run of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccination that begins today.
The states that will witness the two-day dry run on December 28-29 are Punjab, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.
“The dry run is being conducted to mobilise all elements involved in the Covid-19 vaccination drive that is planned for next year to test the vaccine delivery machinery. All elements except for the vaccine will be mobilised,” said a senior official in the union ministry of health and family welfare, requesting anonymity.
Five session sites in each district are likely to be established for the purpose of conducting the dry run.
“Two districts each from all four states have been identified to conduct this dry run simultaneously on these two days,” confirmed another official in the health ministry, who did not want to be named either.
The dry run will include testing for cold storage and transportation arrangements for the vaccine, managing crowds at session sites with proper physical distancing, and defining the role of vaccinators and other staff on vaccine-related duty.
The states will focus on checking how possible adverse events following immunisation will be dealt with as each session site will have a designated health care facility for those who feel uneasy post vaccination.
States will also check for adherence to infection control practices during vaccination so that the site doesn’t become ground zero for disease transmission.
To supervise and assist in Covid-19 vaccine delivery process, a multi-level governance mechanism has been established across all states and union territories. There are three types of committees: two at the state level and one at the district level. All these committees have been meeting regularly to chalk out the vaccine delivery plan at the ground level.
Specific training modules have been drafted for medical officers, vaccinators, alternate vaccinators, cold chain handlers, supervisors, data managers, Asha coordinators and all others involved in the implementation process at different levels.
As per current estimates, the Centre will be using 29,000 cold chain points, 240 walk-in coolers, 70 walk-in freezers, 45,000 ice-lined refrigerators, 41, 000 deep freezers, and 300 solar refrigerators across the country for the storage and delivery of vaccines. All the equipment has already been provided to states based on their individual requirement.
“This is going to be one of the largest vaccination drives, with a lot at stake. It is important to have all checks and balances in place before the actual process begins,” said the first official cited above.