NEW DELHI: As the country gears up to open COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone above 45 years of age beginning Thursday, the Union health secretary reviewed the preparations on Wednesday and asked states to ensure that vaccine wastage is less than 1%.
Assuring that there is no problem in the availability, storage and logistics of vaccines, the Centre re-emphasized the point that there is no value in conserving vaccines for the second dose.
States were also advised to promptly supply vaccines to all government and private hospitals where there is a demand and asked to ensure minimum wastage of vaccine at all levels.
As of now, about 6% vaccine doses — on an average across the country — are getting wasted, triggering concerns as the vaccine supply has been limited.
An estimated 34 crore people in the country are now prioritized for vaccination against COVID-19.
In a high-level meeting with state health secretaries, state mission directors of the National Health Mission and immunization officers, top health bureaucrat Rajesh Bhushan asked states to identify low vaccine coverage pockets particularly in districts showing a COVID surge and take corrective actions there.
This comes a day after Bhushan wrote to states to complete vaccination of the entire prioritized population in districts with high caseloads or those reporting fast growth in cases within the coming two weeks.
On the vaccination coverage of health care and frontline workers, states were directed to ensure that only eligible beneficiaries are registered and vaccinated and also to achieve saturation of vaccination of these groups on priority.
On concerns that in many states, participation of private hospitals in vaccination is limited, the Centre advised them to carry out regular reviews of vaccinations at private centres with respect to their capacity utilization.
It also asked states to undertake geographic information system analysis of COVID vaccination centres to identify the need for additional centres and address apprehensions of private facilities on vaccine supply and guidelines proactively.
On the issue of vaccine stocks, states were advised to ensure that there is no sedimentation of them at any level of storage and that distribution is based on consumption to avoid overstocking as well as understocking at cold chain points and vaccination centres.
Bhushan also suggested review of vaccine stocks and consumption to identify gaps and address them, besides timely updation of vaccine consumption data on CoWIN and eVIN portals.