NEW DELHI: Nearly 30 crore Indians -- which includes healthcare and frontline workers, those above 50, and those with comorbidities -- will be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination, the government said on Tuesday, sharing for the first time, details of its coronavirus vaccination strategy officially.
The National Expert Group on Covid-19 Vaccine Administration has recommended that every single Indian who needs to be vaccinated will be vaccinated, said the Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a press briefing on Covid-19 outbreak management on Tuesday and specified the core groups that need to be immunised on the priority.
These include 1 crore healthcare providers and workers in healthcare settings in both government and private sectors, about 2 crore frontline workers that include personnel in state and central police departments, armed Forces, home guard, and civil defense organizations including disaster management volunteers and municipal workers.
The third group whose number is about 27 crore includes persons above the age of 50 years and those under 50 with comorbidities.
Bhushan however said that this is the recommendation of the expert group and the government is yet to decide on it and added that the groups are not sequential and the vaccination in these categories can be even simultaneous, depending on the availability of the vaccine doses.
The official also said that the process of collecting databases of HCWs has begun across states and central ministries and is being uploaded on software Co-WIN, specially designed to track and monitor the Covid-19 vaccination process for targeted beneficiaries.
As per the details shared, presently the cold chain system consists of 85,634 equipment for storage of vaccines at about 28,947 cold chain points across the country and the current cold chain is capable of storing additional quantities of Covid-19 vaccine required for the first 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers.
The health ministry, in consultation with states, has assessed the additional requirement for cold chain storage such as walk-in coolers, walk-in freezers, deep freezers, and ice-lined refrigerators and additional supplies are set to be available from Thursday, it was announced.
The secretary also said that additional procurement for syringes is on track and implementation of standard operating procedure is being finalised. Also, detailed implementation plans will be finalized with state governments in the coming days, he added.
The official also said that there are 2.39 lakh vaccinators (axillary nurses and midwives or ANMs) in the country of whom 1.54 lakh will be used for immunization against coronavirus so that routine immunization for children and pregnant women are not hampered.
The Prioritised Group
The prioritised population groups recommended by the National Expert Group on Covid-19 Vaccine Administration are:
A 1 crore healthcare Workers and those who are working in healthcare set-ups in both government & private sectors
B. 2 crore frontline Workers (Personnel from state and central police departments, armed forces, home guard and civil defense organization including disaster management volunteers and municipal workers)
C. 27 crore of people who are above 50 and those under 50 with associated comorbidities (though it has not been spelt out it, comorbidities could include hypertension and other vascular and cardiac disease, diabetes and cancer among others)