Hyderabad: The Covid vaccination drive, to be launched in the country from January 16, is likely to become a continuous affair with estimates made by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and public health specialists indicating that the immunisation drive is expected to last the entire year and even beyond.
Based on the limited availability, health authorities for the next few months will only be able to roll out the vaccines in a sequential manner, based on the priority list of beneficiaries that was prepared by the Health Ministry.
Non-Covid medical services in government hospitals and Covid vaccination has to be taken-up simultaneously, which will put a lot of pressure on the availability of human resources in public and private healthcare facilities, senior health officials here indicated.
A major chunk of trained vaccinators in Telangana comprise of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANMs) and Anganwadi workers, who also are the backbone for Mission Indradhanush, the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) and numerous other welfare schemes aimed at improving mother and child health in the State.
“There is a need to balance the workload of field level healthcare workers in the State so that they can also provide non-Covid services, instead of just getting consumed in the Covid vaccination activity. Given such challenges, it could mean a prolonged vaccination drive,” senior health officials here said.
At present, when the Covid vaccination drive is to be launched on Saturday, about one crore health care workers in public and private healthcare institutions in India and 2.8 lakh in Telangana will receive the vaccine. Overall, as part of the first wave of Covid vaccine drive, the Health Ministry has planned to immunise 30 crore individuals in the country out of which 3 crore are healthcare and frontline workers while the rest are persons above 50 years.
No option in choosing between vaccines: Govt
Reports have indicated that the Health Ministry has ruled out the possibility of healthcare workers choosing between the vaccines launched by Serum Institute (Covishield) and Bharat Biotech (Covaxin).
In the first phase, the Union Government has ordered 1.10 crore vaccine vials of Covishield from Serum Institute and 55 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech. Due to non-availability of efficacy data of Covaxin, healthcare workers across the country preferred to take Covishield.
However, reports have indicated that due to limited supply of the vaccines and logistical difficulties, no such option or preference will be available.
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