COVID Vaccination: Health Ministry Issues Guidelines For States, UTs

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has directed states and union territories (UTs) to set up committees for coordinating and supervising COVID-19 vaccination drive, so that other routine healthcare services can be carried out without disruption.

Once a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, distributing it to the entire population could take as long as a year. Multiple groups will be formed sequentially, “starting from health care workers,” the Health Ministry has advised.

In a letter, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has asked states and union territories to constitute a state steering committee (SSC) chaired by the chief secretary, a state task force (STF) led by additional Chief Secretary or principal secretary (health), and a district task force (DTF) headed by the district magistrate, PTI reported.

“Ensure early tracking of social media and other platforms for possible misinformation and rumours around COVID-19 vaccine that could impact community acceptance of the vaccine,” the letter stated.

“The COVID-19 vaccine introduction will span over a year with multiple groups being included sequentially starting from HCWs. Therefore, it is important to create strong advisory and coordination mechanism at state and district level to guide the process of COVID-19 vaccine introduction while ensuring minimal disruption of other routine health care services including immunization,” the letter further said.

An annexure attached with the letter described the terms of references for the committees according to which the SSC will oversee active involvement of all departments and “devise innovative strategies for improving community engagement (‘Jan Bhagidaari’) for improved coverage of COVID-19 vaccine” after it is available for use.

The state task force will provide guidance, including funding and operational guidelines, fix timelines for districts to plan and implement vaccine introduction once it is available for mass consumption.

Other activities include planning and mapping of vaccination sessions, where HCWs will be vaccinated during the first phase and mapping human resources across departments that could be deployed for vaccination sessions for verification of beneficiaries, crowd management, etc.

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