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India’s COVID Vaccination Programme Explained: Who Will Get It First, What Is The Process And Other Things You Need To Know

As India plans to roll out the massive vaccination drive for coronavirus in coming days, we speak to experts to decode the process of vaccination programme for COVID-19 – who will get COVID-19 vaccine first, how can one register

India’s COVID Vaccination Programme Explained: Who Will Get It First, What Is The Process And Other Things You Need To Know
  • India has approved two COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the country
  • Covishield and Covaxin are the two COVID-19 vaccines
  • In first phase, 1 crore healthcare workers will get the vaccination shot

New Delhi: India’s drugs regulator has approved Oxford Institute’s COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, which is being developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute, and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, for emergency use in the country, which means that India will roll out a massive vaccination drive against COVID-19 in the coming days. According to Drug Controller General of India VG Somani, the overall efficacy of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine was 70.42 per cent while Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN was “safe and provides a robust immune response.” In the run up to a massive coronavirus vaccination drive, dry-run has already been held across states and Union Territories on January 2 to assess operational feasibility, to test the linkages between planning and implementation and to identify the challenges and guide way forward prior to actual implementation. 

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: Everything You Should Know About COVID-19 Vaccine Dry Runs

Here’s All You Need To Know About India’s COVID-19 Vaccination Drive:

Who Will Get The Vaccine First?

1. One Crore Healthcare Workers

In the phase one of the coronavirus vaccination drive in the country, the COVID-19 vaccine will first be given to around one crore healthcare workers working in both government and private hospitals, according to the recommendation by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC). Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had also said the same while informing the public about India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive. He had said,
“In 1st phase of COVID-19 Vaccination drive, free vaccine will be provided across the nation to most prioritised beneficiaries that include 1 crore healthcare workers.” 

These healthcare workers have further been divided into sub-categories like frontline, health and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers, nurses and supervisors, medical officers, paramedical staff, support staff and students.

All the data for the same has been collected by the government and is being fed into CoWIN, a digital platform to roll out and scale up the vaccination drive in India.

2. Two Crore Frontline and Municipal Workers
In the phase-1 of coronavirus vaccination drive, after the healthcare workers comes other frontline warriors and municipal workers. Around two crore frontline workers such as state and central Police department, armed forces, home guard, disaster management and civil defense organisation, prison staff, municipal workers and revenue officials engaged in COVID-19 containment, surveillance and associated activities will get the COVID vaccine. Workers associated with state government and ministries of defense, home, housing and urban affairs will also be inoculated in this phase.

3. Population Above 50 Years Of Age
This group is divided into two sub-categories: Above 60 and 50-60 years of age. Speaking to NDTV about the vaccination drive in India, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director AIIMS said,

We will be looking at the latest electoral data for Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly elections to identify the population under this category for the vaccination drive. But there can be people who can get left out, so if one falls in that category, they can simply go to the CoWin app and register themselves by using any of their photo identification card such as AADHAAR Card, driving license, and others.

Also Read: High Risk Individuals To Get Immunised First: AIIMS Director On COVID-19 Vaccine Approval

4. Areas With High COVID-19 Infection / People With Comorbidities
Next in line will be areas or identified priority groups (as decided by the NEGVAC) in identified geographical areas where the COVID-19 infection prevalence is high, followed by people who have comorbidities. Explaining the same, Dr Randeep Guleria added,

Less than 50-years, we have developed a group, where the person will get a score depending upon the severity of his/her disease which he/she will feed in the grid prepared in the CoWin app. Higher the score, chances of getting vaccinated first will be high. Say, for example, if we have a person who has diabetes for last 10 years and he has a kidney disease or retinopathy, he will get a higher score and comes on the priority list of our vaccination drive in this group as compared to someone who has developed diabetes recently. He will come low in the priority list. Similarly, if someone has a respiratory illness and needs regular supply of oxygen, even at home on day-to-day basis, he will come on the top of this priority list as compared to someone who has mild bronchitis.

Also Read: As India Set To Begin Immunisation Drive For COVID-19, Experts Answer FAQs On Coronavirus Vaccination

5. Rest Of The Population
Once everyone from the above list is covered, the rest of the population will be inoculated. The vaccination here will depend on the disease epidemiology and vaccine availability. To avoid overcrowding at vaccination session site, the vaccine will be given to the beneficiaries in a staggered manner – once the people will register themselves, they will get a message on their phone, telling them the time and location of their vaccination spot.

How To Register Yourself For COVID-19 Vaccine?

Self-registration module will be made available in the later phases of the implementation of the vaccine drive. The general public, which is not in the priority list will have to self-register themselves on the CoWIN website/app. They will have to upload a government photo identity or do an AADHAAR authentication. The authentication can happen via biometrics, OTP (one time password) or demographic. Once the registration is done, a date and time will be allocated for vaccination. There will be no on the spot registration and only pre-registered beneficiaries will be allowed to proceed for the vaccination.

Vaccination Sites: Where You Will Get Vaccinated

According to the health ministry, vaccine sites have been allocated for different priority groups. Following are the vaccination sites:

  • Fixed Session Site: These sites include health facilities – both government and private – where either a medical officer or a doctor is available is defined as a fixed session site
  • Outreach Session Site: Locations other than health facilities such as schools, community halls, come under this list
  • Special Mobile Team: For remote, hard-to-reach areas, migratory populations areas and international borders areas, district administrations will plan the vaccination drive via the special mobile team

The Vaccination Process: What To Expect

The vaccination site will have three rooms:

  • Waiting room: Where one will wait before you get the vaccine
  • Vaccination room: A place where you will be given the vaccine
  • Observation room: An area where you will be observed for 30 minutes post receiving the vaccine

A five-member vaccination team will be entrusted with the process:

  • Vaccination officer 1: For pre-checking the registration
  • Vaccination officer 2: For authentication
  • Vaccination officer 3: In-charge of giving vaccine. Since it is an intramuscular vaccine, a trained professional will administer the vaccine
  • Vaccination officer 4 and 5: In-charge of crowd management and 30-minute observation

What Is The Duration Of Immunity After Taking The Vaccine

Explaining the efficacy of Coronavirus vaccine, Dr Shekhar C Mande, Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research said,

The duration of immunity is still an open question because the disease is only 11-months old now. The first of the vaccines trials that began, especially the phase-3 began in July and August, so as of now, we don’t know how long the person will be immune to the disease with the vaccine. But all this will be known very soon as we progress to different stages. And this answer will only define, whether we need to take vaccine every year or periodically. But nonetheless, we don’t need to worry about that as of now. We have to just think that we all need to take the two shots of the vaccine – one at day 1 and other at day 28.

Will Coronavirus Vaccines Be Compulsory?

Vaccines are not compulsory; however, doctors do recommend on getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr Shekhar C Mande adds,

There should be no doubt about taking the vaccine, we have weighed in both the positives and negatives beforehand, if someone doesn’t get the vaccine for coronavirus, the chances of contracting the disease are much much higher.

Any Adverse Reactions To Look Out For After Taking COVID-19 Vaccine?

Explaining the same, Dr R Gangakhedkar, Ex-Deputy Director Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) said,

By and large, one must remember that when you take the vaccine there will be some local reactions like at the vaccination site itself someone might feel tenderness, pain or minor swelling. There could be people who might develop fever, some might develop fatigue but all these are mild transactory-symptoms, which in a day or two are bound to disappear, so one should not worry about it. And one of the reasons why it should be told to every person is because most of the people taking vaccine will be otherwise healthy and if they are not told about these symptoms they might feel if they are facing such instances with one shot, it may increase when they take the second shot and therefore, they might decide that they will not take the vaccine for the second time. This at any instance should not be done. Currently, whatever data we have, there is no reason for people to panic while taking this vaccine for coronavirus, there are not severe side-affects that have come in the trials. However, if one faces any severe reaction, they can come back to the healthcare facility, inform them. There is a robust AEFI system that is adverse event falling immunisation system that is in existence since for decades now. This system not only records or view the side effects of the person but also ensure that his/her symptoms or case is viewed by the higher authority.

When Will The Kids Get The COVID Vaccine?

Dr Randeep Guleria says,

Currently we don’t have a lot of safety data for COVID-19 vaccine as far as children are concerned. And for most of the vaccines trials two groups were done later, which included children and pregnant women, therefore, we don’t have much data. However, luckily in both these groups, COVID-19 causes a very mild disease. But with children, one will like them to get vaccinated, because they will go to school and the chances of them infecting others are high and the virus can come to home with them in one or the other way. Currently, there are trials going on to see the safety and efficacy of these vaccines in the younger age-group or children. Hopefully, we can start vaccinating them as soon as we have some safety data. This might not happen in the first phase, but as we go along, this can happen as a part of children immunisation programmes.

How Much COVID Vaccine Cost?

As of now, in phase 1, the vaccine will be provided for free of cost by the government of India and in later stages the price of vaccine will depend on whatever is decided by the regulatory authority.

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 (WaterSanitation 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 pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Krishnan

    January 7, 2021 at 3:45 am

    Initially it was told that the vaccine will be administered free of charge. Now in this article, it is mentioned that after phase 1, the vaccine is likely to attract charges based on certain parameters. We, Indians, have a system of having God ‘dharson’ at the temples at special rates. Then why not provide the vaccine to people who can afford to pay a price to be prioritized. This will help to alleviate the Government to some extent the financial burden of vaccinating the entire Indian population free of cost.

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