To assess the readiness of the mechanism laid out for the COVID-19 inoculation drive, a dry run has been planned by the Centre on December 28 and 29 in four states, Punjab, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat.
The exercise will include necessary data entry in Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring of vaccine delivery, testing receipt and allocation, deployment of team members, mock drill of session sites with test beneficiaries, a well as reporting and evening meeting, the Union health ministry said on Friday.
It will also include testing of cold storage and transportation arrangements for COVID-19 vaccine, management of crowd at session sites with proper physical distancing, the ministry said.
Each state will plan it in two districts and preferably in five different session-type settings, district hospital, community health center (CHC) or primary health care center (PHC), urban site, private health facility, and rural outreach.
“This exercise will enable end-to-end mobilization and testing of COVID-19 vaccination process [except the vaccine] and check the usage of Co-WIN in the field environment, linkages between planning, implementation and reporting mechanisms, identify challenges and guide the way forward prior to actual implementation including improvements that may be required in the envisaged process,” the health ministry said.
This will also provide hands-on experience to program managers at various levels.
The state government picked up Krishna district for the dry run, where it will be carried out in five locations, according to Health Commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar. “The dry run is aimed at testing the planned operations and the laid out mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccination in the state. It will provide insights into any gaps or bottlenecks so that those could be addressed before the commencement of the actual drive,” Bhaskar said on the eve of the program.
The Centre has chosen Punjab to conduct a dry run of COVID-19 vaccine on December 28 and 29, state Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said on Thursday. “The districts of Ludhiana and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar have been selected for the dry run,” he said in an official statement here. Sidhu said the dry run is aimed at testing the laid out mechanisms for the vaccination roll-out in the health system. “It will provide insights on any gaps or bottlenecks so that those could be addressed before the commencement of the COVID-19 drive. The dry run is to be conducted in one or two districts under the overall leadership of the district collector/magistrate,” he said.
SOPs for inoculation drive
An important focus of the dry run will be on the management of any possible adverse events following immunization (AEFI) as well as on adherence and management of infection control practices at the session site to prevent disease transmission.
The mock drill will include concurrent monitoring and review at block and district levels, and preparation of feedback to be shared with the state and the Centre.
A detailed checklist has been prepared by the Union Health Ministry and shared with the four states to guide them in the dry run.
“The Central government is gearing up for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine across the country. As the vaccine administrators will play an important role in the immunization process, training of trainers and those who shall administer the vaccine has been taken up across various states,” the health ministry said.
To strengthen the human resource for the vaccine introduction and roll-out and detailed training modules have been developed for different categories of vaccine handlers and administrators, including medical officers, vaccinators cold chain handlers, ASHA coordinators, and all others involved in the implementation process at different levels.
The training includes all operational aspects of training like the organization of vaccination sessions, use of Co-WIN IT platform for the management of the entire vaccination process, deployment of HR cold chain preparedness, management of adverse events, communications and intersectoral coordination, biomedical waste management, infection prevention protocols among others.
As many as 2,360 participants were trained during a national-level training of trainers, which comprised state immunization officers, cold chain officers, information, education and communication officials, and development partners.
As of date, state-level training has been completed at all states and Union Territories with the participation of more than 7,000 district level trainees, except Lakshadweep which will conduct it on December 29. Cascading down, 681 districts have completed the training of medical officers on operational guidelines, the ministry said.
To facilitate the redressal of queries on COVID-19 vaccination and Co-WIN portal, national and state helpline capacity has also been strengthened.
The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of COVID-19 (NEGVAC) has recommended three prioritized population groups including, healthcare workers (about 1 crore), frontline workers (about 2 crores), and prioritized age group (about 27 crores).
As vaccines are temperature-sensitive, the present cold chain system consisting of 85,634 equipment for storage of vaccine at about 28,947 cold chain points across the country will be used, the ministry stated.
The current cold chain is capable of storing an additional quantity of COVID-19 vaccine required for the first three crores prioritized population.