Guwahati/Agartala, Dec 29 : As the people across the world keenly await a Covid-19 vaccine, a mock-drill, called dry-run, of coronavirus vaccination was done effectively involving 250 health workers on Monday and Tuesday in two northwestern districts of Assam: Sonitpur and Nalbari.
"All the 250 health workers spontaneously participated in the dry-run of the vaccination without any technical hitch or any other problem," said a senior official of the National Health Mission (NHM), which had been mandated to carry out the task.
One of the beneficiaries, a nurse at Nalbari Urban Health Centre, said the process was easy to understand and everything went smoothly.
Assam's National Health Mission's (NHM) Director Lakshmanan S.
said that the dry-run of the Covid-19 vaccination was done successfully and effectively in 10 health institutions of the two districts including the Tezpur Medical College.
"This mock-drill or the dry-run was limited to 250 health workers only. No members among the general public were included in the two-day dry run," Lakshmanan S. told IANS over phone.
He said that ten medical teams conducted the dry-run in ten health institutions including the Nalbari District Civil Hospital, the Nalbari Urban Health Centre, the Tezpur Urban Health Centre and two provate hospitals, besides the Tezpur Medical College.
The NHM Director said the entire process -- including all steps of possible vaccinations -- was just a trial.
He said that during the dry-run exercise end-to-end testing of Covid-19 vaccination process was done that include planning and preparations including prerequisites for the vaccine introduction as per the operational guidelines, creation of facilities and users on CoWIN application, review meetings at block, districts and state and providing feedback to guide actions.
The senior IAS officer, who is also a physician by profession, said that under the Covid vaccination programme, pre-identified beneficiaries from specified groups -- initially health care workers and frontline workers -- would be vaccinated, supported by Co-WIN, an electronic application.
Another official of the Assam Health and Family Welfare Department said that the immunisation partners the UNDP and the WHO at the state level were supporting the dry-run.
She said that the dry-run of Covid-19 possible vaccination was conducted to test the laid out mechanisms for Covid-19 injection in the selected four states and provide insights into any gaps to be addressed before the commencement of the real vaccination drive.
"The exercise experienced the functionality of Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring the delivery of coronavirus vaccine, involvement of team members, identification and checking cold storage for storing the vaccine, systematic transportation preparations and other measures while following all necessary protocols, stipulated by the central authorities," the official said, refusing to be named.
The state surveillance medical officer of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday visited Nalbari district and held discussions on the exercise with health department officials and Deputy Commissioner Purabi Konwar.
At the institution level, the Medical Officer in-charge led the dry-run while at the block level Block Level Task Force and at the District Level, District Level Task Force under the Deputy Commissioner supervised and executed the dry-run.
At the state level, the dry-run operations were supervised and guided by Director Health Services, Director Health Services, Director Medical Education and Mission Director, National Health Mission assisted by State Immunisation Officer and development partners including the UNDP.
Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan asked the states across the country that beneficiaries of the actual vaccination would be pre-identified and an SMS sent to them in advance with the name of the vaccinator and the time of the immunisation.
Prior to the dry-run, a special training workshop of personnel was also held.The central government is gearing up for the rollout of Covid-19 vaccine across the country.
Health officials said that as the vaccine administrators would play an important role in the immunisation process, training of trainers and those who shall administer the vaccine has been taken up across various states.Besides Assam, the dry-run was also conducted in selected districts of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab.
Tripura Health and Family Welfare Department Director Radha Debbarma said that the central government is yet to inform the other states whether the dry-run would be conducted in any other state before the actual vaccination for Covid-19.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)