KOCHI: As part of its efforts to ensure vaccination of the elderly people at old age homes in the state, the health authorities are gearing up to tie up with Kerala Social Security Mission and Social Justice Department to roll out mobile units. The units will cover around 20,000 at 169 government-affiliated old age homes across the state. Currently, there are around 65 lakh beneficiaries, including 20 lakh aged above 45 with comorbidities, in the state who are eligible for priority vaccination.
Kerala Social Security Mission (KSSM) Executive Director Mohammad Asheel told TNIE that this is the ideal time for rolling out vaccination for the vulnerable population as the second wave is yet to happen in Kerala. He said the elderly at care homes are more vulnerable and in many countries, especially in the UK, one-third of the deaths due to the pandemic happened at care homes.
“We had noticed Covid-19 cluster formation at three or four elderly homes in the state. The state has been on high alert and giving special care for the elderly population at care homes. Routine Covid-19 testing and screenings were ensured at these homes which played a key role in keeping them safe.
Since we have launched vaccination for the elderly, we have decided to give priority for those in care homes. In fact, Thiruvananthapuram District Medical Office has taken this initiative and we have decided to roll out the drive across the state,” said Asheel.
The project would be implemented in all districts and the Vayomithram units would be deployed for the purpose. The KSSM has decided to roll out 104 Vayomithram units for the purpose. The initiative would be launched first in Thiruvananthapuram district which has around 10 lakh elderly population and 56 approved elderly homes giving care to nearly 5,000 elderly inmates.
Thiruvananthapuram District Medical Officer K S Shinu told TNIE that eight Vayomithram units -- each of which comprises a doctor, staff nurse and junior health official -- were given training on Wednesday to roll out the drive in the district. “From Thursday, our mobile units will start visiting the elderly homes in the district and administer the vaccine,” Shinu said.
More vaccination centres would be activated in the district in the coming days. “We will get more vaccine supply in the coming days. Many vaccination centres in the peripheral areas still haven’t exhausted the existing vaccine stock. Once they finish using the stock, we would report it and get more vaccine ampoules. There will not be any vaccine shortage in the future,” he added.
Ernakulam District Coordinator of KSSM Eby Abraham said they have got the direction to roll out the mobile vaccination drive for the elderly population at care homes. “We are waiting for the guidelines and the initiative would be launched jointly with the district medical office here. We hope to launch it without much delay,” said Abraham. There are around 130 old age homes with around 4,000 inmates in Ernakulam district.