NEWDELHI : To ensure equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, whenever they are safe and available for administration, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has advised States to prepare and provide details of priority population groups who will be amongst the first to receive the vaccine.

Disclosing these details on Sunday, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said the Health Ministry had prepared a format that had to be followed by States to furnish the list of priority population groups who will receive the vaccines, by the end of this month.

Addressing questions posed by the public on social media, Harsh Vardhan said they have also been asked to submit details of cold chain facilities and other related infrastructure, which would be needed to finalise logistics in administering Covid vaccine.

The priority list of individuals who will receive the vaccine in the first phase are expected to be the frontline healthcare workers in government and private sector including doctors, nurses, paramedics, class IV employees, field level staff like ASHA workers and those involved in active surveillance and contact tracing.

The Minister said that by July 2021, the country would receive and utilise anywhere between 40 crore and 50 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine. The Health Ministry was aiming to inoculate at least 20 to 25 crore individuals through the Covid vaccine, which would, in all probability be a double-dose vaccine that would ensure individuals have longer immunity.

The entire process of procurement of vaccines for India would be taken up centrally and a system was being developed wherein each consignment of the vaccine would be tracked until it reached the eligible beneficiary.

A high-level committee headed by NITI Aayog was hammering out logistics on procuring and administering the vaccines. The committee would focus on entering into MoUs with vaccine manufacturers and address the issue of logistics and supply chain management for transport of the vaccine.

Harsh Vardhan addressed fears of black marketing once vaccines hit the market. “The vaccines will be distributed as per pre-decided priority and in a programmed manner. To ensure transparency and accountability, details of the entire process will be shared in the coming months,” he said and stressed on the need to prioritise healthcare workers and adults with underlying health conditions, who would receive the vaccine initially.

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