Tamil Nadu will conduct a dry run for the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out at 17 health facilities in Chennai, the Nilgiris, Tirunelveli, Poonamallee and Coimbatore on Saturday.
Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar told reporters on Friday that vaccination was not an easy task and it required protective measures and precise planning. “We need to follow the guidelines issued by the Centre and the World Health Organization. This is a new virus [the novel coronavirus]. So, we need to carry out the administration of a new vaccine carefully. So, a trial run is required for proper planning,” he said.
The plan is to vaccinate 25 persons in two hours. So far, 21,170 Health Department employees have been trained. “The Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation and the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine have taken up the work of creating infrastructure to preserve the vaccine for 2.5 crore persons in the first phase,” Mr. Vijayabaskar said.
The objective of the dry run was to see that the process — starting with the identification of beneficiaries, the cold chain points from where the vaccine will be moved, vaccinators and vaccination sites — is conducted smoothly, according to health officials.
“No vaccine will be administered in the dry run. The list of identified beneficiaries, vaccination sites, vaccinators, the cold chain points and persons who will coordinate the logistics is being uploaded on a separate portal. We will have 25 dummy beneficiaries who will visit the vaccination site during the dry run,” said T.S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.
The vaccination site will be like a polling booth. A staff member will check whether the name of a beneficiary is on the list and then allow him/her in. The second officer will match the person’s identity with the database on the portal. The next is the process of vaccination. Thereafter, the beneficiaries will get an update on the second dose.
“For the first dose also, we would like to generate an SMS wherein the beneficiary will know in advance when, where and at what time he/she needs to come for vaccination. This will be synchronised with the movement of the vaccine from CCPs [cold chain points] at appropriate time/temperature and in doses as required for that site,” Dr. Selvavinayagam said.
“At the end of the first dose, we want to schedule the second dose so that we can avoid crowds at the vaccine site. Every beneficiary will be asked to wait for 30 minutes to check for any adverse event. If there is an adverse event, how to manage it is part of the trial,” he explained.
At every site, there will be a minimum of five staff members. Healthcare workers would first receive the vaccine once it is available. He said that of the estimated five lakh healthcare workers, 3.8 lakh beneficiaries had been identified in the State.
So far, the Health Department has identified 50 district-level storage points. A total of 2,660 places have been identified as cold storage points with ice-lined refrigerators. It has identified 40,000-47,000 vaccination points.
Dry run sites
In Chennai, the dry run will be held at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and two Urban Primary Health Centres at Santhome and Ekkatuthangal. The Government Ooty Medical College Hospital; Coonoor Government Hospital; and the Nellakottai Primary Health Centre are the sites in the Nilgiris.
In the Tirunelveli health unit district, it will be held at the Government Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital; the Urban Primary Health Centre at Samathanapuram; and the Reddiyarpatti Block Primary Health Centre. The Government Hospital at Poonamallee; and the Primary Health Centres at Nemam and Thirumazhisai are the sites in the Poonamallee health unit district.
The dry run will be held at five places in the Coimbatore health unit district — the Government Medical College and ESI Hospital; the PSG Institute of Medical Sciences; the Government Hospital, Sulur; SLM Home Urban Primary Health Centre; and the Pooluvapatti Community Health Centre.