Union Health Ministry has flagged concerns regarding the considerably slow pace of COVID-19 vaccination across States and UTs, and has urged them to significantly expedite the pace towards full vaccination coverage by saturating all eligible beneficiaries, an official release said on Friday (20 May).
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan raised the issue of slow vaccination as he reviewed the status of COVID vaccination with Health Secretaries and National Health Missions (NHMs) MDs of states and UTs, through a video conference (VC) on Friday.
Highlighting the urgent need for an intensive ‘Mission Mode’ push to COVID-19 vaccination across the country to accelerate the recent placid momentum, Union Health Secretary has advised them to plan for a two-month long “Har GharDastak” campaign 2.0, during June-July, with detailed district, block and village levels plans.
The objective of the ‘Har GharDastak2.0’ abhiyan is to vaccinate and saturate the eligible population groups for first, second and precaution doses through door-to-door campaigns, with focussed campaigns for old age homes, schools/colleges including the out-of-school children (for focussed coverage of children aged 12-18 years population), prisons, brick kilns, etc, the Health Ministry said in a release.
The sub-optimal coverage of persons aged 60 years or above with precaution dose which renders them vulnerable, along with considerably slower speed of coverage in the 12-14 yrs cohort was pointed out.
States/UTs were urged to undertake effective monitoring with micro-plans based on due-lists of all eligible beneficiaries. They were also urged to review administration of precaution dose to 18-59 years age-group with the private hospitals on a regular basis, the ministry said.
Union Health Secretary stressed on a clear and effective communication strategy for increasing the pace of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination, noting that customised regional communication best practices have yielded appreciable results in India’s highly commendable COVID-19 coverage of over 191 crore doses.
Focus on regional influencers, community leaders, innovative campaigns, etc. was highlighted.
With data on state-wise availability of vaccines vs. due beneficiaries, States/UTs were informed about the stock of near-expiry vaccine doses lying unused with them.
Underscoring that COVID-19 vaccine is a precious national resource, they were strongly advised to ensure that there is no wastage of COVID-19 vaccines at any cost, the ministry said.
This must be ensured through active monitoring and on basis of “First Expiry First Out” principle, where doses that expire earlier should be used for vaccination first, it added.
Pointing out that supply of vaccine doses has been made to States/UTs as per their demand since December 2021, they were advised to first use the unused balance doses over the coming months of May, June and July, the ministry said.
It was pointed out that in some states, persons who wish to travel abroad and seek to take a precaution dose within 90 days of the second dose, are being asked to furnish proof of the intended foreign journey.
Union Health Secretary reiterated that under no circumstances should any COVID-19 Vaccination Centre or any State government insist on any documentary proof of foreign travel for those who are seeking a precaution dose ahead of their travel abroad.
Communication in this regard has already been shared with state/UTs, the ministry said.
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