Prime Minister Narendra Modi to launch COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the rollout of India’s COVID-19 vaccination programme on January 16, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.

He is likely to interact via video link with some healthcare workers from across the country who will be receiving the shots on the first day, according to sources.

Modi is also likely to launch the Co-WIN (COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network) App, a digital platform created for real-time monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine delivery and distribution, they said.

The health ministry said, “The massive countrywide COVID-19 vaccination drive will be rolled out by Prime Minister from January 16. This would be the world’s largest immunisation exercise. Therefore, it has been decided by the Ministry of Health in consultation with the office of the President of India to reschedule the Polio vaccination day, also known as the National Immunisation Day (NID) or ‘Polio Ravivar’ to 31st January.”

A limited number of sites out of the 2,934 inoculation centres have been shortlisted from where the beneficiaries can interact with the prime minister and the authorities in those centres have been asked to make provisions for IT infrastructure for providing a two-way interactive communication facility to enable it to link and interact with the national launch site through a video link, the sources said.

Officials at New Delhi’s AIIMS and Safdarjung hospitals, which are among the shortlisted facilities, said they are “ready for a two-way communication”.

Around three lakh healthcare workers will get vaccine shots at 2,934 sites across the country on the first day of the massive nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive, a senior official said.

Each vaccination session will cater to a maximum of 100 beneficiaries.

According to the guidelines issued to the shortlisted vaccination centres, healthcare workers (those registered in Co-WIN to be vaccinated) on the launch shall include not only doctors, nurses but also nursing orderlies, safai karamcharis, ambulance drivers, and would be from a mixed age group, including above 50 years.

The full initial procurement of 1.65 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin– has been allocated to all states and UTs in proportion to their healthcare workers database.

“Therefore, there is no question of discrimination against any State in allocation of vaccination doses. This is the initial lot of supply of vaccine doses and would be continuously replenished in the weeks to come. Therefore, any apprehension being expressed on account of deficient supply is totally baseless and unfounded,” the ministry said.

States have been advised to organize vaccination sessions taking into account 10 per cent reserve/wastage doses and an average of 100 vaccinations per session per day.

Therefore, any undue haste on the parts of the states to organize unreasonable numbers of vaccination per site per day is not advised, the ministry had said on Wednesday.

The states and UTs have also been advised to increase the number of vaccination session sites that would be operational every day in a progressive manner as the vaccination process stabilizes and moves forward.

According to the government, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers, and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities.

Cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the central government.

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