As India has finally successfully developed its own vaccine to overcome the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is wondering when they would get a shot of it, which most probably may restore the actual “normalcy” in their life.
Well, an expert panel with the government’s health ministry, the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration (NEGVAC), has come up with a prioritisation list to identify the most vulnerable populations in an effort to reduce the mortality rate and burden on the healthcare system.
Who will get the vaccine first?
As every one of you was already guessing, healthcare workers (HCWs) are the first in line to get the vaccine. It means, doctors, nurses, every worker in the healthcare setup, will be the first to get the vaccines. As per the NEGVAC, there are about 1 crore HCWs across the country.
The second slot in the priority list is reserved for frontline workers (FLWs), who include state and central police department cops, home guard, armed forces and civil defence organizations, including municipal workers and disaster management volunteers. The overall population of FLWs in the country is about two crores.
After covering these two groups, the expert panel has finalized a prioritized age group, which covers people above 50 years of age, and those below 50 years of age having associated comorbidities. As per the data collected by the expert panel, the population of such people is about 27 crore in India.
The age group of above 50 years has been subdivided into two parts – first of those above 60 years, and then of the people between 50 and 60 years. This bifurcation has been done for purposes of the phasing of roll out based on pandemic situation and vaccine availability.
Once the priority groups are covered, the remaining population will be vaccinated based on the disease epidemiology and vaccine availability.
How has the data been prepared?
The expert panel is referring to the latest electoral roll of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections to figure out the eligible candidates for the vaccinations. The age will be calculated as of January 1, 2021. So, those who were born on or before January 1, 1971, will fall under the category to be vaccinated as per the priority list.
Moreover, the government has already started collecting data on healthcare workers across the states, union territories, and central ministries. The collected data is being uploaded on CO-WIN software, a digital platform for real-time monitoring of COVID-19 vaccine delivery and it will be verified at multiple levels before beginning the vaccination process.
The beneficiaries are required to register on the CO-WIN software beforehand in order to avail the vaccine. The government hasn’t set any provision for on-the-spot registration for any candidate.
How many vaccinators does India have?
The central government of India has confirmed that they currently have 2.39 lakh vaccinators (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife-ANM), of whom only 1.54 lakh will be used to administer the COVID-19 vaccine shots. The aim of not using all of them is to minimize the effect on routine healthcare services across the country, including routine immunization.
What’s India’s cold chain capacity for vaccine storage?
The government has claimed that the current cold chain has the capacity of storing vaccines for the first three crore health workers across the country.
Over and above this, the government also confirmed that the plan and infrastructure are ready to kick start massive production of COVID-19 vaccines as soon as the scientists and researchers give a green signal.
How many COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in line?
Three major firms i.e. Serum Institute of India, Pfizer Inc and Bharat Biotech have applied for Emergency Use Approval in the last few days. The regulatory framework of the country has a specific provision for granting the emergency use authorization. Emergency use approval of the COVID-19 vaccines will be granted after sufficient evidence regarding their safety and effectiveness.
The NEGVAC has prepared a detailed and authentic plan for rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine, and the people, who do not fall in the selected categories for phase 1 rollout, should not panic. The panel surely has a plan in place for covering the remaining population of the country in the months to come.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.