- First dry run was held in 4 states- Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Assam
- The nation-wide COVID-19 vaccine dry run started on January 2
- Vaccination drive to roll out within 10 days from authorisation: Centre
New Delhi: In the run-up to a massive vaccination drive against COVID-19 in the country which aims to inoculate 30 crore people identified as priority groups as they are at a higher risk due to coronavirus, the Central government has been conducting ‘dry-runs’. Simply put, a dry-run is the rehearsal of the actual vaccination drive at an identified site. As of now, two vaccines against coronavirus – AstraZeneca-Oxford University’s Covishield, which is being developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India and the indigenously made Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin have been given a nod by the DGCI (Drug Controller General of India) for emergency use in the country. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the aim of the COVID-19 vaccine dry run which started on January 2, is to assess operational feasibility, to test the linkages between planning and implementation, and identify the challenges and guide the way forward prior to actual implementation. NDTV spoke to Dr Preeti Kumar, Vice President- Public Health System Support at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Dr Aviral Roy, Consultant Critical Care, Medica Superspecialty Hospital in Kolkata to learn more about dry-runs and why such a drill is necessary for implementing the COVID-19 immunisation drive.
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What is a Dry Run?
A dry run is a drill or a mock-test of the whole vaccination process starting from delivering vaccines via cold-chains, informing people, administering vaccines, to following up with the vaccinated individuals for potential side-effects, managing any adverse situations and updating the software/dashboard with the information of vaccinee and vaccination drive at a site.
According to Dr Kumar, immunization programs depend on sound logistic arrangements for effective, safe and efficient rollout. She said,
We are looking at one of the largest immunization programs to be rolled out – a cohort of 3 crore people to be vaccinated in the phase-1. In addition, our programs are traditionally oriented for children and pregnant women. This time it is a unique cohort of frontline workers, health workers and elderly (those above 50) with comorbidities. In order to achieve it, there is need to ensure availability of vaccines (procurement of continuous right quantities on schedule), transportation, cold chain maintenance, delivery of vaccines at around 30000 immunization points – (Sub centre like Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs), Community Healthcare Centres (CHC), urban health units, hospitals, dispensaries), preparation of line lists of people to be vaccinated, their registration; process for identifying, registering people and administering the vaccine while ensuring all COVID-19 protection protocols are met. Finally, safe disposal of empty vials, syringes/needles and preparing for the next day.
She further said that the nurses and ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwives) are to be trained on the vaccination protocols for the approved vaccines. Simultaneously, there is considerable administrative work of data management, she said.
Thus, a dry run is absolutely essential to ensure uniformity and consistency of a safe and efficient vaccination program.
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Dr Roy said that dry runs also help in identifying the challenges that may come up during actual vaccination drive and preparing strategies to quickly manage challenging situations during the implementation of the immunisation programmes. For example, if an individual faints after receiving a jab or suffers any other conditions, due to any unforeseen reason, then how fast can the staff act and how quickly the person can be taken to the hospital, he said. Explaining further about dry runs, he said,
During a dry run, the medical officers in charge will be required to identify test beneficiaries. The states and the Union Territories are required to carry out physical verification of the sited to ensure enough space. Logistical arrangements like internet connectivity, power supply and safety norms and SoPs (Standard of Procedures) are present. All model sites are having separate entry and exit set-up. Dry runs also give a chance to the health officials and other people involved in a vaccination drive to ensure that proper awareness generation and communication strategies are in place at the vaccination site.
He further said that dry run also provides an opportunity to test in field environment the software developed by the Central government called COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) application. The objective of CoWin is to register the vaccine receivers and monitor their vaccine shots as both the approved vaccines are to be given in two doses, allocation the centre, and informing about the date and time of taking the shot. All beneficiaries would be pre-identified as stated by the government fo the state and would be needed to be registered on the Co WIN portal.
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The Ongoing COVID-19 Vaccine Dry-Runs In The Country
The first dry-run in the country was held in states- Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Assam on December 28 and 29, 2020. The second dry-run was done nationwide on January 2, 2021 at a minimum of three session site in the capitals of all states and UTs. Some states are also conducting dry runs in districts that are situated in difficult terrain or have poor logistical support. A few states are continuing the exercise in even more of their districts, for example, Uttar Pradesh conducting dry run in all 75 districts on January 5, as per the state’s health department.
According to the Health Ministry, around 96,000 vaccinators have been trained for the nationwide dry run. 2,360 participants have been trained in the National Training of Trainers and over 57,000 participants trained in District level training in 719 districts. States are augmenting the State helpline 104 (which shall be used in addition to 1075) for any vaccine/software related query. Orientation and capacity building of the Call Centre executives has taken place in the States/UTs. States were also encouraged to use the FAQs issued by the Health Ministry proactively to address any such query, as per the Union Health Ministry.
Based on the feedback received from the field during dry-runs, the MoHFW has found that the country is ready for starting a vaccination drive. The government is now aiming to roll out COVID-19 vaccine within 10 days from date of emergency use authorisation.
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NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.