Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the vaccination campaign at 10.30 am on Saturday, addressing 3,006 vaccination sites across the country through video conferencing.
Priority groups include health workers, security personnel, military, and disaster management, volunteers.
The government has said that about 100 people will receive shots at each of the country’s 3,006 vaccination sites on Saturday. The first phase of vaccination is likely to be completed in a few months.
Considering that India has a population of 130 crore people, the country is based on its experiences of conducting elections to conduct vaccine drives. The Ministry of Home Affairs has requested the Election Commission (EC) to share the latest voter list data for Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections to identify people belonging to priority groups.
This exercise will be conducted for people above 18 years of age. Each site, which will act as an election booth, will have three hard copies of the beneficiary list. These names will also be uploaded by the officials on the government’s Cowin portal – Saturday’s list was uploaded two days ago.
An official said: “The vaccination session is from 9 am to 5 pm. Whoever comes till 5 pm will be vaccinated even after 5 pm, just like in elections.”
The Prime Minister has said that India will use its experience with the Universal Immunization Program (UIP) and people’s participation (Jan Bhagdari).
The vaccines being administered in the first phase will be free. PM Narendra Modi said earlier this week, “The Center will bear the expenses to vaccinate the 3 million priority population.”
Two vaccines – covaxin and covishield have been approved by India’s drug regulator CDSCO. They are known as “restricted use clearances” in an emergency, meaning they can be used by companies even if cellular testing is not completed.
Covishield is the Indian version of AZD1222, a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. It was developed and manufactured in the country by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII). Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the National Institute of Virology.
Currently, there are 1.1 million doses of Serum Institute and 5.5 million doses of Bharat Biotech vaccine available for administration. Two shots of both vaccines are given to each person 28 days apart.
Apart from these two, four more indigenous vaccines are working.
The center has set a distribution strategy based on geographic priority or in areas where “the spread of infection is high”. This means, states like Maharashtra and Kerala, which are reporting the most daily cases, will likely get more vaccines than other states.
States, in turn, will decide how to distribute the shot at the district level. To ensure that two doses of the same vaccine can be given to each beneficiary, the distribution should be proportionate at the district level.
As soon as people are vaccinated, their data will be uploaded on the CoWin platform in real-time. The government plans to use Aadhaar to help identify and monitor beneficiaries.
After vaccination, the beneficiary will receive a digital certificate. This will help remind him / her when the second dose is administered. This will help the government to know who has received the dose. After the second dose, a final digital certificate will be generated.
Data on the Co-Win platform will also help curb rumors and misinformation about the vaccine and ensure effective reporting of adverse events after vaccination.
India has done three mock drills in preparation for the vaccine rollout. A nationwide exercise was undertaken to understand the best way to control vaccine and plug flaws in logistics and training.
The government has also created a dedicated 24X7 helpline number – 1075 to address queries related to vaccine rollout and co-win software.