Context: Recently unveiled India’s COVID-19 vaccine policy, should make adequate allowances for ground realities.
What is India’s plan on vaccinating people?
- Strategy to slow the virus spread: With a definitive cure not yet available for COVID-19, vaccines present the world with the best strategy to slow the virus down.
- India’s plan: The U.K. and the U.S. began vaccinating their people, India has announced its plan and proposed line-up for COVID-19 vaccination.
- Priority population: As per the government’s strategy, the vaccination is to be given first to health-care workers and then to people over the age of 50, with those over 60 given priority, based on the situation. This will amount to about 30 crore people.
- Verifying document: The voters’ list for the Lok Sabha and Assembly election polls has been set as the verifying document for the process.
- Co-WIN: A new digital platform, Co-WIN, will be used for COVID-19 vaccination delivery, and about 1.54 lakh Auxiliary Nurse Midwives working on Universal Immunisation Programmes will be roped in as vaccinators, with more such field staff to be mobilised in collaboration with the States.
- Cold chain systems: Cold chain systems are to be strengthened across the country to deliver multiple doses.
What are the steps to be taken?
- Perception management: They need to clear the fog on vaccine safety and efficacy among the people.
- Detailed plan: A detailed plan must be prepared for vaccinating children and a breakdown of tasks down to the lowest governance rung, as counties in the U.S. have been doing.
- Unless the latter is done, a proper estimate of the true challenges of administering vaccines in the field will not be available.
- Tackling vaccine hesitancy: Vaccine hesitancy is a reality and the only way to counter that is to be open and honest about adverse effects and make available relevant information in the public realm.
- In the past, in some States, vaccination programmes have suffered temporarily because of misinformation about adverse events following shots.
- In this case, a long-term follow up of all who receive the vaccine is absolutely essential. For, therein lies the assurance that everyone in the global line list is waiting for.