BHUBANESWAR: The ZyCoV-D vaccine approved for children aged above 12 years is expected to be rolled out soon as the Ministry of Health has started training immunisation officials of states on how to administer the needle-free vaccine.
A team of State-level officials will attend the first orientation programme to be held virtually on Friday on the use of the new vaccine. Along with Odisha, three other states will participate.
Director of Family Welfare and nodal officer of COVID vaccination Dr Bijay Panigrahi said the orientation-cum-training programme is being conducted in phases. "After the State team is trained, the schedule for district-level training will be finalised. Hopefully, it will be completed this month," he said.
Produced by pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila, the vaccine has received Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) and is also the first in the country to be approved for children above the age of 12.
Odisha has around 1.4 crore children in the age group of 2 to 18 years. Although the Subject Expert Committee has recommended Bharat Biotech's Covaxin to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for vaccination of children aged above two years, the latter is yet to give its nod.
"The Centre has not yet issued any guidelines on vaccination of children. Based on the MoHFW direction, the immunisation drive for kids will begin and the State will take necessary steps to increase vaccination centres," Dr Panigrahi added.
100 per cent first dose coverage in five blocks, 3540 villages
Odisha administered 2.6 lakh doses on Thursday, the day the country achieved the unique feat of 100 crore vaccination. So far, five blocks - Reamal in Deogarh, Belaguntha in Ganjam, Tikabali, G Udaygiri and Raikia in Kandhamal - and two municipal corporations - Bhubaneswar and Berhampur - besides 3,540 villages have recorded 100 per cent first dose coverage.
Health department sources said that the tribal villages are the top performers. Kandhamal has the highest 421 villages with 100 per cent first dose coverage, followed by 385 in Nabarangpur, 289 in Koraput, 273 in Ganjam, 259 in Bhadrak, 246 in Rayagada, 238 in Nayagarh, 227 in Deogarh and 211 in Keonjhar.
Though the number of vaccination centres has been increased to around 1,800 in order to achieve the daily target of four lakh inoculation, the drive has slowed down in the State following the decline in new COVID cases in interior districts.
Expressing concern, Dr Panigrahi said a review meeting of district immunisation officials will be conducted soon to strategise how to mobilise people for vaccination. The State has a stock of 24.7 lakh vaccine doses.