The much-anticipated inoculation programme against Covid-19 in the country is expected to begin by January 12, government sources told IANS.
“In all likelihood, the Covid immunisation drive is expected to start early next week. Considering the preparations, the roll-out may start on January 11 or latest by January 12,” a senior government official inducted in the vaccine distribution programme said.
The sources also informed that the government has started preparing the freight carrying the vaccine vials for transportation to different hubs located across the country. The agencies involved in the vaccine roll-out programme will start dispatching the vaccine vials from Thursday onwards, they added.
“The dispatch is expected to start late on Thursday evening or early in the day on Friday,” the officials said.
As per the information received, the vaccines from their manufacturing units will be transported to the central hub in Pune. From there, they will be moved to regional hubs situated at different locations across the country.
IANS was told that Karnal in Haryana and Delhi will serve as regional hubs for the storage and roll-out of the vaccines in the northern part of the country. Chennai and Hyderabad will serve as regional hubs for the distribution of vaccines in southern India. For the eastern part, Kolkata is designated as the distribution point, while the distribution in the western region of the country will be covered by the central hub only.
However, no official announcement has been made by the government yet apart from the official statement that the immunisation drive will start within 10 days from the date of approval of the vaccines. The vaccines — Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and Covishield by Serum Institute of India — were approved for emergency use authorisation on January 3.
Meanwhile, Suneela Garg, public health expert and professor of excellence at the Maulana Azad Medical College, who is also a key member of the task force handling vaccination in Delhi, said that the government should start the immunisation drive by January 12 as the preliminaries have been finalised.
“All the arrangements for the roll-out have been made and the scheduled dry run would confirm the preparations. The vaccine doses are ready to be dispatched. After the dry run, there would be no reason to delay the roll-out. The government should start immunisation by January 12,” she added.
The second nationwide dry run for Covid vaccine is set to be conducted across 33 states and Union Territories on Friday. The mock drill will be conducted in all the districts of the country, except for Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, since the former has already conducted dry run on January 5 while the latter conducted it on Thursday.
The first dummy drive was held on January 2 where only five districts had taken place.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan met the health ministers of states and Union Territories on Thursday and guided them on conducting the dry run.
The government has trained around 1.7 lakh vaccinators and 3 lakh vaccination team members for the process to be followed at the vaccination centres during the inoculation drive, which would include beneficiary verification, vaccination, cold chain and logistics management, bio-medical waste management, Adverse Effect Following Immunisation (AEFI) management and reporting on the Co-WIN software.