Last Updated on January 4, 2022 by The Health Master
New Delhi: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Sunday said states and union territories should take necessary measures, including setting up separate vaccination centers, to avoid mixing-up of C-19 vaccines during the administration of shots to those in the 15-18 age group.
Inoculation of children in this age category will start on January 3. According to a set of new guidelines issued by the Union health ministry, the only vaccine option for those in the 15–18 age group would be Covaxin.
Beside Covaxin, the adult population of the country is being administered by Covishield and Sputnik V.
To ensure smooth implementation of the guidelines, Mandaviya held an online interaction with health ministers and principal secretaries, as well as additional chief secretaries for health of states and union territories (UTs).
A health ministry statement said he advised them to ensure orientation of vaccinators and vaccination team members for the inoculation exercise for those in the 15-18 age group and to identify dedicated vaccination session sites for this category of beneficiaries.
“To avoid mix-up of vaccines during administration, separate C-19 vaccination centers (CVCs), separate session sites, a separate queue (if at the same session where adult vaccination is ongoing), and a separate vaccination team (if at the same session site) are to be strived for,” Mandaviya said.
The statement said that states and UTs were advised to share their requirements for vaccine doses by giving district-wise estimation of beneficiaries, using Co-WIN, and plan for distribution of Covaxin to identified session sites well in advance, the statement said.
Mandaviya reviewed the public health preparedness for C-19 and the progress of the national vaccination campaign in view of rising cases of the Omicron variant.
The statement said that he also reviewed the recent decisions to roll-out vaccination for the 15-18 age group and “precautionary dose” (third dose) for identified vulnerable categories. The online meeting was officiated by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.
The minister noted that at the outset, countries are experiencing a three to four-fold surge in C-19 cases in comparison to their earlier peaks.
The Omicron variant being highly transmissible, a high surge could overwhelm the medical system, Mandaviya noted.
He advised states to leave no stone unturned in ramping up infrastructure to manage a high surge so that India escapes unscathed from this episode of the pandemic, the statement stated.
Mandaviya said in this regard, irrespective of C-19 variants, measures for preparedness and protection remain the same.
He urged states and UTs to re-invigorate their teams to work at the ground level and strengthen monitoring and containment mechanisms.
A detailed discussion on various aspects of C-19 management, including ramping up hospital infrastructure, increasing testing, stringent restrictive measures for breaking the chain of transmission, and stress on C-19 appropriate behavior, was held, the statement said. Critical bottlenecks in medical infrastructure were also discussed.
Applauding the dedication shown by states in their fight against the pandemic and in simultaneously ensuring the welfare of their people, Mandaviya said, “We have put up a strong fight against C-19 earlier and this learning must be used to re-focus efforts against the Omicron variant.”
The statement said that he stressed the continued need to follow C-19 appropriate behavior along with a renewed and stringent focus on containment measures for addressing the present surge.
Underscoring the importance of vaccination, the minister observed, “We must focus on planning with regard to the 15-18 age group’s vaccination and precautionary doses for eligible beneficiaries.”
He also urged states to ensure that healthcare and frontline workers are fully vaccinated as they form the most vulnerable categories.
While appreciating efforts of states and UTs in achieving a national average of 90 per cent coverage of first dose vaccination of all eligible adults, he urged those states, whose progress is below the average, to ramp up their vaccination campaign.
States were also advised to prepare a weekly plan to catch up and exceed the average national vaccination coverage and review implementation of the plan on a daily basis, the statement said Stress on the vaccination drive was especially on Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur where assembly polls will be held, it said Mandaviya also pointed out that various measures are being taken by the Union government to ramp up infrastructure and vaccine production.
He asked states and UTs to share their best practices so that the entire country could benefit. The minister pointed out that, collectively, states and UTs have only used just over 17 percent of the available approved funds under the Emergency C-19 Response Package (ECRP-II), the statement said.
States and UTs were exhorted to expedite the physical progress under ECRP-II in terms of ICU beds, oxygen beds, pediatric ICU and HDU beds, etc.
They were also asked to effectively use information technology tools for tele-medicine and tele-consultation, including training and capacity building of human resources, timely availability of ambulances, and the readiness of states to operationalise C-19 facilities for institutional quarantining, and effective and supervised monitoring of those in home isolation.
At the same time, he also urged states and UTs to better utilize approved funds under ECRP-II and invited any suggestions regarding the same, the statement said.
State health ministers who attended the meeting included S Pangnyu Phom (Nagaland), N K Das (Odisha), Dr Prabhuram Choudhary (Madhya Prades), MA Subramanian (Tamil Nadu), Keshab Mahanta (Assam), Anil Vij (Haryana), Satyendar Jain (Delhi), Alo Libang (Arunachal Pradesh), Banna Gupta (Jharkhand), Mangal Pandey (Bihar), TS Singh Deo (Chhattisgarh), and Chandrima Bhattacharjee (West Bengal).
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