New Delhi: The general public too can now avail COVID-19 vaccines in the next phase of the innnoculation drive which begins from March 1, a citizen can walk in to a vaccination centre and get themselves registered for a dose, the government announced on Friday.

In a statement to the states, the Centre outlined new guidelines and features that are being included in the Co-WIN platform.

The Co-WIN platform is the digital backbone of the innoculation drive, and everyone has to be registered on it to get a dose. The government took the platform offline for the weekend to upgrade it which will allow all eligible people to be included.

“The States and UTs were explained the basic features of version 2.0 of the digital platform Co-WIN, which is a population-scale software with capacity of processing several thousands of entries. The new phase of vaccination of age-appropriate groups will expand the COVID-19 vaccination in the country manifold,” the health ministry said.

The government also said on Friday that anyone of the health care workers and frontline services staff such as police and sanitation workers who have been left out will also be allowed to seek doses at any centre they want.

“With a citizen-centric approach, the fundamental shift in this phase is that citizens in the identified age groups, as also those health care workers and frontline who have been missed out or left out of the present phase of vaccination, can select vaccination centres of their choice,” the statement added.

The process of registration will follow three routes, the ministry statement said. The first is for people to register themselves in advance using the Co-WIN 2.0 web portal or the Aarogya Setu application. Through this route, they can book an appointment for the vaccination at a centre of their choice.

The second option is to register on-site. While the third option will utilise volunteers and grassroots government staff such as accredited social health activists, auxiliary nurse midwives, panchayati raj representatives and women self-help groups to help people register.

All Covid-19 vaccination will be at health care facilities – where doses will be free — such as sub health centres, primary health centres, community health centres, Ayushman Bharat health and wellness centres, subdivision hospitals, district hospitals, and medical college hospitals, the Centre said.

All Private hospitals empanelled under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PM JAY) and similar State Health Insurance Schemes will also act as vaccination sites. The rate will be capped and is expected to be disclosed over the weekend.

The identity will be verified through their Aadhaar cards or Voter ID cards. People between the age of 45 and 59 will need to present a certificate from a registered medical practitioner to show that they suffer from diseases that make them more vulnerable (a list is expected from the government over the weekend).

Once anyone is given a dose, a digital QR-code based certificate will be issued.

Since the drive began on January 16, over 13 million doses have been delivered across the country. But the coverage has been lower than expected with only 48 people turning up on average for every 100 people expected for each session, government data showed.

With this decision anyone above the age of 60 and those older than 45 but with illnesses that makes them vulnerable to COVID-19 can approach government and private hospitals for doses.

It could be a crucial step now to stop the second wave of COVID-19 infections that are being reported from some states.



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