Centre asks states to identify healthcare workers for COVID-19 vaccination drive


New Delhi

The Centre has asked states to identify healthcare workers, including doctors, pharmacists as well as MBBS and BDS interns to carry out a COVID-19 inoculation drive once a vaccine is available.

The Centre in its letter to states and Union Territories have said the MBBS and BDS doctors, as well as interns, staff nurses, auxiliary nurse midwives and pharmacists, would be considered as potential vaccinators.

The provision will work if they are actively involved in the day-to-day provision of clinical care and have experience in administering injections.

"Further, the states may also consider retired personnel from above-mentioned categories, as applicable, that may be utilised to meet the demand for vaccinators," the letter written on November 23 by Additional Secretary, Union Health Ministry, Vandana Gurnani said.

According to Union Health Ministry officials, the anti-coronavirus vaccine, once available, would be distributed under a strategic COVID-19 inoculation programme, using the processes, technology and network of the existing Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). It would run parallel to the UIP.

The letter said that one of the activities of the government is the creation of a database of healthcare workers who will be prioritised, for coronavirus vaccine.

This database will be uploaded, on COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (CoVIN), it said.

It said that the potential vaccinators among the healthcare workers need to be identified, for support during the COVID-19 vaccination drive, the letter stated.

"You are kindly requested to direct the concerned officials to ensure identification of the mentioned potential vaccinators in the database of healthcare workers being created, for upload on CoVIN software.

Appropriate training of the potential vaccinators will be carried out, before utilising them for COVID-19 vaccination drives.

"You are requested to kindly identify the pool of potential vaccinators which will be available once the COVID-19 vaccine is available as per the list shared," the letter read.

According to sources, around one crore frontline healthcare workers, including doctors, MBBS students, nurses and ASHA workers have been identified for the COVID-19-vaccine, once available.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has offered the services for over three lakh members in the COVID-19 inoculation programme of the government.

The Union Health Ministry has also asked states to conduct planning and mapping of vaccination sessions, with the priority to be given for the healthcare workers during the first phase.

Mapping human resources across departments could be deployed, for vaccination sessions for verification of beneficiaries, crowd management and overall coordination.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had earlier said a COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be available by the first quarter of 2021.

He had said the Centre estimates to receive and utilise 40-50 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine covering around 25 crore people by July next year.

"The prioritisation of groups for COVID-19 vaccine shall be based, on two key considerations -- occupational hazard and risk of exposure to infection, and the risk of developing severe disease and increased mortality," he had said. (PTI)