As against around 1.74 lakh healthcare workers who registered themselves for vaccination against Covid-19, nearly 85,000 are likely to get the first shot in Punjab in the drive starting Saturday.
The decision was taken after Centre told the state government that only those healthcare workers should be covered in the inaugural vaccination phase who commit to take the second dose on the 28th day (of the first shot). A top government functionary told The Indian Express that a correspondence from Union Health Ministry was received in that regard Thursday evening.
Punjab received 2.04 lakh doses of Covishield — AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from Pune-based Serum Institute of India — on Tuesday. The consignment was taken to State Vaccine Store from where it is being transported to 59 facilities earmarked for vaccination.
Each vial, a health official said, was good to administer 10 doses of vaccine, but there was a component of 10 per cent wastage also given the fact that after opening the vial, the medicine has to used within four hours.
Punjab Health Secretary Hussan Lal said that out of the total doses received, around 10 per cent were to be given to health facilities managed by the Centre, which included health institutions run by Army.
Centre’s latest correspondence directing Punjab to plan vaccination schedule in a way that all doses were used to complete zero to 280days vaccination of a given set of health officials indicate that it is not sure when we will get next batch of vaccines, said a state government functionary.
Lal said that Centre’s direction was aimed to ensure that second dose of the same vaccine was in place on 28th day for all who get the first dose.
Punjab, as per estimates by state health department, requires vaccines for a total of 70 lakh people.
Punjab’s nodal officer for Covid-19 Dr Rajesh Bhaskar said the 70 lakh individuals who were estimated to get the vaccine included those above 18 years of age, healthcare workers, frontline workers, individuals above 50 years of age and those below 50 years of age but having co-morbidities.
In the inaugural phase, healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, pharmacy officers, accredited social health activists (ASHAs) and other paramedical staff, are to be given vaccine doses, followed by frontline workers including personnel from police, municipal corporations, revenue and other departments.
A governmnent functionary said that while there was a brief discussion to administer first vaccine dose to a politician in Punjab, the state health department was in process of finalising a health sanitation worker for the first dose, “as recommended in the schedule sent by Centre.”
Hussan Lal said it was yet to be finalised who would be administered first dose of the vaccine, but added that as per the guidelines, it was likely to be a healthcare sanitation worker.
A government functionary said that on Saturday, the doses of vaccine would be transported to earmarked destinations though vaccine vans armed with police security. The functionary added that since the vaccine was going to be administered to health workers in first phase, the Centre had directed that there should be security arrangements to prevent any pilferage.
Hussan Lal said that contra-indications — conditions in which vaccine should not be administered — included pregnant woman, lactating mothers, nursing students less than 18 years of age, someone on blood thinner medication, anyone having fever; immunity compromised; and has had severe allergic reactions.
Lal said it was voluntary on the part of the healthcare workers to get the vaccine or not.