Kerala to leverage private healthcare facilities for COVID-19 immunisation drive

Kerala to leverage private healthcare facilities for COVID-19 immunisation drive
The vaccine supplies for the global market will be produced by RDIF's international partners in India, Brazil, China, South Korea and other countries. Image courtesy: IANS

Thiruvananthapuram: A nationwide vaccination drive against COVID-19 which struck the country nearly a year ago is set to commence soon and the entire process might take one year or even more. The Kerala government, which has initiated elaborate measures for the storage and administration of the COVID vaccine, has decided to utilise the services, logistics and other facilities already available in the private health sector, considering the massive requirement on the ground for vaccination-related activities.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been finalised as the technical partner for COVID vaccination in the state. The agency will be responsible for training programmes and data management associated with COVID vaccination.

The training of health committee chairpersons will begin soon after the new governing councils take charge in local self-government bodies after the elections now under way.

Preparatory meet

The first meeting of the steering committee constituted for coordinating COVID vaccination activities in the state was held here the other day. According to officials, the vaccination schedule will be finalized in accordance with the Central Government's order.

During the first phase, vaccination will be given on priority to health workers, uniformed services including the police, people above 50 years of age and people below 50 who have serious health problems.

India has short-listed six vaccines which are being tested on humans and three vaccines which are in the pre-clinical trial stage.

Administration of vaccine

As per the current national COVID immunisation plan, up to 100 persons will be vaccinated in each session at the vaccination centres. Up to 30 minutes time would be required for administering the vaccine to each person. This is also to monitor the side effects.

At present 2.39 lakh midwives are engaged for the Universal Immunization Programme. Of these 1.54 lakh will be deployed for COVID vaccination. More people would be made available by the respective state governments.

The services of Anganwadi staff and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) would be taken for bringing people to the vaccination centres across the state.

The Kerala government will make additional arrangements for cold storage should the cold chain facilities provided by the central government fall short in meeting the storage demand in the state.

The country has 28,947 cold chain points for storing vaccines. Allied equipment include coolers, freezers, deep freezers, ice-lined refrigerators and cold storage trucks. They number 85, 634. More facilities will be provided by the states.

Six crore doses could be stored in the existing facilities and they are enough for the first 3 crore people who will be administered the vaccine across the country.

Task force to oversee

All logistics work and planning related to vaccination centres, expert panels and equipment has been entrusted with the task force. The high-level steering committee will be in charge of overall planning, execution and monitoring of the vaccination programme.

The committee headed by Kerala chief secretary Vishwas Mehta comprises the heads of departments of revenue, health, local bodies, social welfare, IT, Ayush, fisheries and the National Health Mission.

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