How Delhi plans to carry out COVID-19 vaccinations
Ahead of the licensing of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Delhi government has been working on a plan to conduct vaccinations. Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had earlier said that healthcare and frontline workers would be prioritized for vaccinations, followed by the elderly. Delhi is notably among the worst-hit spots in India in the coronavirus outbreak with over six lakh infections.
According to the initial plan, reported by The Indian Express, between 1.8 lakh and 2.25 lakh healthcare workers will be vaccinated in the first phase. Three vaccine candidates are under consideration for emergency approval: Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield, Pfizer-BioNTech's BNT162b2, and Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN. The Lok Nayak, Kasturba Gandhi, Baba Saheb Ambedkar, AIIMS, RML, Safdarjung hospitals are among the 609 facilities where vaccinations would be conducted.
Officials told the publication that more facilities would be added depending on the need and demand. At each facility, there will be two facilitators and inoculators for injecting the vaccine and facilitating the process.
TIE reported that cold chain points will span across primary and tertiary facilities. There are roughly 60 cold chain points in each district. Medical facilities, from mohalla clinics to district hospitals, will be included in the vaccination drive. Delhi has an existing cold storage facility at Civil Lines that has the capacity to hold up to five million doses at 2-8°C.
The biggest cold storage facility—spanning over 5,000 square meters—is being created at the state-run Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospital. Officials told TIE that the vaccine will be stored at this facility and delivered to other cold chain points for immunization.
Dr. Suneela Garg, Director and Professor of the Department of Community Medicine at Maulana Azad Medical College, told TIE, "All top hospitals in Delhi will be used as cold chain points, which will be utilized for immunization." Dr. Garg—who is also a public health expert for the COVID-19 vaccination program—said, "The centers will be manned by medical officers who will be coordinating the program."
Reportedly, the government has identified roughly 3,500 healthcare workers who will be actively involved in the vaccination process. 600 workers among them are from the private sector, 200 from hospitals under the railways, cantonment, etc., while 700 medical officers will monitor cold chain points.
Dr. Garg said, "Training of officers at the national level has already been completed and the state-level training for workers in Delhi will begin from Monday." "It is cascade-level training in which officers from various districts and medical officers will be trained in the first phase. These officers will then guide other team members," she added.
Meanwhile, Dr. DK Sharma, medical superintendent of AIIMS, told TIE, "We already have adequate infrastructure since the institute has been vaccinating for other diseases." "We will just need to plan a risk stratification strategy on how many healthcare workers will be vaccinated in the first stage," Dr. Sharma said, adding that the institute has several deep freezers to maintain temperatures as low as -70°C.