New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has asked states and union territories (UTs) to prepare a “robust” mechanism for the storage of Covid-19 vaccine, once it’s ready, as it chalks out a plan for the next stage — distribution, ThePrint has learnt.
The health ministry has asked states to meticulously plan and prepare a mechanism that ensures proper storage of vaccines and maintenance of cold chains through which the vaccine will be dispersed.
“As you are aware that, one of the intervention for mitigating COVID-19 pandemic is effective immunization against it and robust mechanism for storage of vaccines and maintenance of the cold chain are imperative for ensuring the same. There is likelihood of introduction of vaccine against COVID-19 in near future,” said Manohar Agnani, joint secretary, health ministry, in a letter written to additional chief secretaries and principal secretaries of all states and UTs. ThePrint has seen the letter, which is dated 10 September.
“We have instructed states and union territories to conduct meetings at all levels across states, districts and blocks to check the preparedness of handling cold chains,” a senior official from the ministry told ThePrint. “The process would require meticulous operational planning at all levels. The same has been communicated to states and UTs.”
According to the government official, states have been asked to prepare “micro plans” for each district and block for conducting vaccination drives in the near future. “They have been given the deadlines to submit the plans by 15 October. They will also submit details on their cold chain preparedness.”
Another official working in the state arm of the National Health Mission (NHM) — a wing of the health ministry that executes the country’s immunisation drives — confirmed the development.
States to train staff, procure necessary equipment
The government has also instructed states and UTs to check the availability and working status of coolers and freezers at districts and blocks to store vaccines.
“If new equipment is required, the process of buying should begin and installation sites should be identified,” said the state NHM official.
States have been asked to train staff, including vaccine and cold chain handlers (VCCH), vaccine and cold chain managers (VCCM), programme managers and cold chain technology managers (CCTM).
“All the officials trained for the purpose will be updated in existing software called Immunisation Training Management System (iTMIS),” the NHM officer said.
States have been instructed to deploy two trained officials to handle vaccines and the cold chain at each cold chain equipment point. “One officer will be primary while the other should be an assistant,” the NHM officer said.
Mobile apps, intelligent network to track vaccines
The government is also exploring the possibility of using mobile applications to track and supervise vaccines.
“Apart from using applications such as Electronic Vaccine Intelligent Network (eVIN), stock distribution registers should be maintained,” the NHM officer said.
eVIN is an indigenously developed technology system in India that digitises vaccine stocks and monitors the temperature of the cold chain through a smartphone application.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.