The COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is all set to begin in the nation. From making vaccines available at left-wing extremists (LWE) areas to managing crowds at sites, and lending cold chain facilities to ensuring undisruptive power supply, at least 19 ministries and 23 different departments other than the health ministry and departments have been given specific rolled across the country. According to the ministry of health and departments are converging at the national level to support vaccination under the guidance of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).
Arguing that the highest level of political and administrative ownership, commitment, and support is vital for successful planning and implementation of COVID-19 vaccination, the ministry said in the SOP of vaccination that coordination mechanism at national, state, district, and block levels have been and that “the individual ministries have been communicated about the support required in vaccine rollout.”
At least four departments – urban development, revenue, PwD, public health engineering – have been told to help in vaccination site identification aside from other responsibilities. Although India has a network of more than 82 lakh sites, COVID-19 vaccination has special requirements given the need for social distancing as reported by TOI earlier.
On Official said, “Keeping this in mind, various departments have been roped in to identify additional sites wherever needed. Wherever possible, sites part of the universal immunisation programme (UIP) will be utilised for inoculation.”
Also, even as there are more than 28,900 cold chain points and more than 85,000 equipment as part of UIP, the ministry; has been reiterating the need to augment this network. In this regard, the departments of animal husbandry and food and civil supplies have been roped in.
LOGISTICS & SITE MGT:
According to the SOP, PwD, rural and urban development, public health engineering departments, among others will look at logistics, including drinking water supply at vaccination sites, preparation of the sites, etc.
The rural development department, for instance, has been told to use self-help groups (SHGs); to aid in logistics management, including vaccine site preparation, cleaning, etc, while block development officers; and village functionaries will help in vaccine delivery and monitoring.
The police, armed forces women and child development, AYUSH, and other departments too will help in site management with roles like crowd management, providing manpower, including vaccinators, and so on.
IT, POWER & OTHER SUPPORT:
Further, while the power department is mandated to ensure uninterrupted power supply; at the vaccine sites and storage spaces, the food, and civil supplies department has been asked to “facilitate biometric authentication; or fingerprint readers at session sites.”
The IT department, through grass-root level Common Service Centres (CSC), will ensure beneficiary registration, monitoring, the printing of beneficiary certification, and other service where connectivity and web-based methods are required.
The education department has been told to support in the management of vaccination session sites including working as team members.
COMMUNICATION & AWARENESS:
Almost all the departments have been mandated to create awareness about the vaccine while also helping counter misinformation. While the information and broadcasting ministry will take lead in this role, some other departments; to have been given specific roles.
For instance, the education department is required to target parents, while the rural development has been told to engage SHGs; for social mobilization, awareness generation, house visits, etc.
The SOP reads, “SHGs conduct local plays, nukkad nataks, be part of community radio engagements, conduct group meetings.”