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40 minutes, 3 centres, medical teams on standby — How Delhi held its Covid vaccine dry run

Dry run was conducted across the country, primarily to test the CoWin portal, which will be used to register beneficiaries during the actual drive. 

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New Delhi: A total of 40 minutes on an average is what it will take for a person to get a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the dry run conducted across three sites in Delhi Saturday morning. 

At least 15 trained vaccination officers carried out the dry run in Central, South-West and Shahdara districts, a process that also involved 75 healthcare workers. The three sites in Delhi included the Venkateshwara Hospital in South West district, Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital in Shahdara and the Urban Primary Health Care Centre at Daryaganj in Central district. 

While teams began lining up from 8:15 am onwards at the sites, the process, which was initiated at 9 am, went on until noon Saturday.

The dry run was conducted in all states and Union Territories across the country, primarily to test the CoWin portal, which will be used to register beneficiaries during the actual drive. 

This is the second such exercise — a dry run was held on 28 and 29 December in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat. 

Also read: Most of 7 with UK strain in Delhi are asymptomatic, says LNJP Hospital

Three vaccination rooms in each booth

A total of 25 healthcare workers each were among the test beneficiaries for the dry vaccine run. Teams of five vaccination officers were constituted to execute the process.

This included two officers, an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) who administered the vaccine, a civil defence volunteer (CDV) at the entrance and a data entry operator for registration.

A tour of the dry run at GTB hospital revealed that the sites will comprise three rooms — a waiting room, vaccination room and an observation room. 

To begin with, civil defence volunteers do thermal scanning at the entrance following which the beneficiary shares his/her details and is allowed in only if his/her name is on the list of people to be vaccinated. Once allowed in, there is a waiting room for the test beneficiaries. 

Soon after, a beneficiary proceeds for registration to the data entry operator who enters details into the Co-WIN application. The portal contains details of all the beneficiaries. 

After this, the beneficiary proceeds to the main vaccination room where a trained officer administers the vaccine, which is stored in cold chain boxes at a certain temperature. 

Once this is done, the beneficiary is sent to an observation room where they were made to wait for 30 minutes in case they develop adverse effects. If there is no issue, then the person is automatically released and vacated from the area. In case of any health emergency or Adverse Effect Following Immunisation (AEFI) teams constituted for this purpose at the district level are roped in. These include medical officers and ambulance drivers who are immediately contacted. Indicators and markings on the floor urge beneficiaries to maintain social distancing while moving from one room to another. 

Sanjeev Kumar, district magistrate Shahdara, who was present at the site, told ThePrint, “My team is also here to ensure that adequate security arrangements are in place.” He added that the cold chain points and vaccine transportation are crucial to the entire process.

Aim to test potential challenges 

The dry run was used to check the operational feasibility of the Co-WIN application in a field environment and also identify if there is any gap between planning and implementation. 

The Co-WIN application is where data operators at three sites in Delhi will enter the data of the person who will be vaccinated as part of the mock drill. 

Dr Monica, district immunisation officer, south west district, where the drive will be carried out at Venkateshwara Hospital, said: “The idea is to ensure crystal clear coordination between district level, state level and union government teams for the dry run.”

Sub district magistrate, Kodali, Arvind Rana, who was overlooking the process at the Daryaganj dispensary, said they also got some teachers to volunteer Saturday to ensure proper social distancing was maintained. 

“However, we witnessed overcrowding due to large media presence but we will ensure this doesn’t happen on the actual day of vaccination,” Rana added.

Rani, an anganwadi worker in central district, who was one of the test beneficiaries at the Daryaganj dispensary said, it was natural to feel slightly nervous in the beginning. 

“But I honestly cannot wait to receive the vaccination since I have been on duty from day 1 and more than myself, it is also for the safety of my family,” Rani told ThePrint.

Dr Sheetal, in charge at the Daryaganj clinic, said, “We also have to counsel the beneficiaries since many of them tend to be nervous.”

Demo to address medical emergency  

Health authorities also carried out a demonstration at the clinic wherein a test beneficiary was instructed to “faint” after a few minutes of getting the vaccination shot. This was held to test the AEFI process and the response time of the emergency team and ambulance.  

Asked whether she would take the vaccine, Kirna Kumari, a nurse at Venkateshwara Hospital,said: “Every medicine has a side effect. Maybe this will have it, maybe it won’t. We can’t say anything now. I will take it.”

At Venkateshwara Hospital, a private facility, the dry run was a three-day procedure. Chief district medical officer (south west) Dr Anjana Kaushal, said, “On day 0, which was 31 December, we got a user ID through which we had to upload the beneficiaries. At 1 pm on the day, we transferred the vaccine at the cold chain point in the district. By the second day that is today, we had registered our 25 beneficiaries on the CoWin application. Since this is a private hospital, we got the vaccine from the cold chain point by 8 am here.”

South west district magistrate, Naveen Aggarwal, who was monitoring the process at Venkateshwara Hospital, said, “We will allow a group of people. Like today we allowed six six people who were checked by a vaccinating officer.”

“The main challenge is that we had at first uploaded details of all healthcare workers from government and private on the CoWin portal for the vaccine,” he added. “There are quite a few beneficiaries. In our district itself, details of over 17,000 beneficiaries have been uploaded.”

A demonstration was also held to test response time of medical teams | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
A demonstration was also held to test response time of medical teams | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint


Don’t pay heed to rumours: Union health min

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan visited GTB hospital followed by the dispensary in Daryaganj to review the preparations for the vaccine rollout. 

He arrived at GTB hospital at 9:30am, wherein he spent about 10 minutes taking a round of the facility. This was followed by a brief interaction with the media here, following which he also visited the clinic in Daryaganj. 

Speaking to the media, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “I appeal to people not to pay heed to rumours. Ensuring safety and efficacy of the vaccine is our priority. Different kinds of rumours were spread during polio immunisation but people took the vaccine and India is now polio-free.” 

He further said that feedback received after the dry run in four states last month was included in the guidelines for vaccination drive Saturday. “Except for giving the actual vaccine, each and every procedure is being followed during the drill,” the minister said. 

Delhi Health minister Satyender Jain also visited the central district dispensary at 10am to review the arrangements.

Review meetings will now be held at the district level to discuss the outcome of the dry run following which Delhi government health department officials will also do a video-conference with the district officials to address any gaps that might have been encountered. This will eventually be communicated to the union government authorities later in the day, through a video conference.

Also read: How Modi govt plans to ensure uptake of Covid vaccine as India inches closer to rollout


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