As the time is nearing for India’s third phase of vaccination on May 1, the Centre on Saturday issued guidelines for states and Union territories on the “effective implementation of the New Vaccination Strategy” as the country fights with a destructive surge of cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The government said in a statement Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Dr RS Sharma, the chairperson of the empowered group on technology and data management to combat Covid-19, chaired a high-level meeting to guide the states and Union territories and to examine their plans to ramp up the existing hospital and clinical treatment support.
All adults will become acceptable for a Covid-19 vaccine and doses can be sold through the market from May 1 in the government’s latest vaccination drive. The decision makes India one of the first countries to allow all adults to seek a vaccine, although people under the age of 45 will only be able to receive doses once private sales begin or if state governments obtain stocks for distribution to these age groups. The government said producers of Covid-19 vaccines will be free to supply 50 per cent doses to states and in the open market, for which they will have to make an advance announcement of the price before May 1.
What the states were advised to do:
1. They have been asked to register further private Covid Vaccination Centres (CVCs) in “mission mode” by joining with private hospitals, hospitals of industrial establishments, industry associations, etc, organising with selected appropriate authority, a mechanism for applications or requests and their processing and monitoring of pendency of registration.
2. They will have to observe the number of hospitals, which have got vaccines and have declared stocks and prices on COWIN.
3. They will have to list vaccination for those eligible for providing enough visibility of vaccination slots on COWIN.
4. They will have to prioritise choice concerning the direct obtainment of vaccines.
5. The Centre asked them to announce about the facility of ‘only online registration’ for age groups 18-45 year.
6. They will have to train CVC staff about vaccination, Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) recording and management and the use of COWIN.
7. They will have to organise with law-and-order authorities for active crowd management at CVCs.
The states were directed to evaluate their existing hospital and other Covidtreatment facilities in light of the daily new case, daily fatality and those that would need hospitalisation.
The states were also directed to develop and perform a complete plan for augmentation:
1. Find out further dedicated Covid-19 hospitals and arrange field hospital facilities either through DRDO, CSIR or similar agencies in the public and private sector.
2. Ensure capacity in terms of oxygen supported beds, ICU beds and oxygen supplies. Setting up centralised call centre-based services for allocation of beds.
3. Arrange needed human resources with proper training and mentoring of doctors and nurses for management of patients and strengthening ambulance services.
4. Establish enough referral linkages for districts with a shortage of infrastructure through the deployment of additional ambulances.
5. Set up centralised call centre-based services for allocation of beds.
They were also advised to:
1. Always keep a real-time record for available beds and make it easily available to the general public.
2. Plan guidelines and permit states to take over private health facilities to provide Covid-19 care.
3. Develop selected Covid-19 care facilities for isolation of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients so that all those who either cannot isolate at home and/or are willing for institutional isolation, have access to the necessary space and care.
4. Grant telemedicine facilities for patients who are isolated at home.
5. Ensure sufficient availability of oxygen, ventilators and intensive care under trained doctors, as well as access to steroids and other drugs as relevant.
6. Step up the production of in-hospital oxygen plants in large hospitals.
7. Pay reasonable and proper remuneration to ASHAs and other frontline workers who are being employed for Covid-19.