India will start the Covid vaccination drive on January 16 after the forthcoming festivals such as Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Magh Bihu, giving priority to around 30 million healthcare and frontline workers, a health ministry statement said.
The decision was taken in a high level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the status of Covid-19 in the country along with the preparedness of the states and union territories for Covid vaccination on Saturday.
Indian drug regulator has granted the emergency use authorisation or accelerated approval for two vaccines, Serum Institute of India developed Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, which have established safety and immunogenicity.
2,360 participants have been trained during national level Training of Trainers which comprised state immunization officers, cold chain officers, development partners among others.
More than 61,000 programme managers, 200,000 vaccinators and 370,000 other vaccination team members have been trained so far as part of trainings at states, districts and block levels.
“The vaccination exercise is underpinned by the principles of people’s participation -Jan Bhagidari; utilizing experience of elections - booth strategy and Universal Immunization Program,” the press statement said.
Serum Institute has 50 million doses of vaccines packed at its Pune plant and another 50 million doses are ready to be packed. It can now make around 60-70 million doses per month and once a third plant comes online adjacent to its existing site, it can make 100 million doses per month.
In a recent meeting with the Health Minister, states have pointed out several glitches they have faced during the dry run.
Chhattisgarh said it faced network issues in tribal belts, while Telangana has said it faced software issues. Jammu and Kashmir has also raised the issue that most parts of states have 2G connection which has made it difficult to use the Co-Win platform, which is driving the vaccination exercise.
Health ministry had assured states of resolving these issues ahead of the roll-out.