“The Central government is gearing up for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine across the country. Union Ministry of Healthhas been pro-actively carrying out the preparations for roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine, in collaboration with states and UTs and all stakeholders, over the past couple of months to ensure that the preparations for roll-outare on track,” the ministry said in a statement. The country’s drugs regulator on Sunday approved Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield and the indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country.

“The roll out of COVID-19 vaccine is expected to begin in the near future. This milestone entails the need for testing of all planned mechanisms for conducting the vaccination drive in the country,” the ministry said. The entire planning of the vaccination drive including beneficiary registration, microplanning and vaccination at the planned session site will be tested under the leadership of District Collector or District Magistrate during the dry run.

The dry run will also familiarize the state, district, block and hospital level officers on all aspects of the COVID vaccine roll out. “This activity will help administrators in strengthening the linkages between planning, implementation and reporting mechanisms, identification of any residual challenges prior to the actual implementation and to provide confidence to the programme managers at all levels to carry out a smooth implementation of the vaccination drive,” the ministry said.

The Union health ministry will be in constant touch with the states and UTs throughout the day to seek feedback, provide support and ensure timely resolution of the identified challenges before the actual vaccination roll-out. To facilitate the entire vaccination process a software named ‘Co-WIN’ has been developed by the health ministry for real time information on vaccine stocks, their storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries for the coronavirus vaccine.

This software will assist the programme managers across all levels in conduct of the vaccination sessions. A dedicated 24×7 call centre has also been established for technical queries of Co-WIN users. The cold chain infrastructure (like walk-in-freezers, walk-in-coolers, ice-lined refrigerators, deep freezers) along with sufficient supplies of syringes and other logistics have been ensured to begin COVID-19 vaccination drive. Around 1.7 lakh vaccinators and 3 lakh vaccination team members have been trained on the process to be followed at the vaccination sites which include beneficiary verification, vaccination, cold chain and logistics management, bio-medical waste management, AEFI management and reporting on Co-WIN software. In a massive nation-wide exercise on January 2, an end-to-end mock drill on COVID-19 vaccine administration was conducted in all states and UTs at 286 session sites spread across 125 districts.

More than 75 lakh beneficiaries have been registered till date on the Co-WIN software, the ministry had said earlier. The entire operational planning and IT platform has been field tested in four states — Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Punjab and Gujarat — on December 28 and 29 and on the basis of the feedback received minor enhancements have been made in the IT system, it had said.

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