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Centre asks states to form panels for smooth rollout of COVID-19 vaccines

The Centre asked states to set up panels to co-ordinate and oversee COVID-19 vaccination drive which would also help in ensuring minimal disruptions in other routine healthcare services.

New Delhi: The Centre asked states to set up panels to co-ordinate and oversee COVID-19 vaccination drive which would also help in ensuring minimal disruptions in other routine healthcare services.

The government also stressed on the importance of tracking and dispelling of rumours on social media which could impact the community acceptance of coronavirus inoculation.

The Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in a letter to states and union territories, suggested setting up of a state steering committee (SSC) chaired by the chief secretary, a state task force (STF) led by additional Chief Secretary or principal secretary (health), and a district task force (DTF) to be headed by the district magistrate.

An annexure attached with the letter outlines the terms of references for the committees according to which the SSC will ensure active involvement of all departments concerned and devise innovative strategies for improving community engagement (‘Jan Bhagidaari’) for improved coverage of COVID-19 vaccine once it is available, PTI reported.

The Health Ministry stated that the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, which will span over a year, will start in a sequential manner with the inclusion of multiple groups claiming that it would start “sequentially from health care workers”.

“The COVID-19 vaccine introduction will span over a year with multiple groups being included sequentially starting from HCWs. Therefore, it is important to create strong advisory and coordination mechanism at state and district level to guide the process of COVID-19 vaccine introduction while ensuring minimal disruption of other routine health care services including immunisation,” the letter issued on October 26 stated.

The ministry has sought constitution of committees at state and district levels which will review preparatory activities in terms of cold chain preparedness, operational planning, strategies for state-specific challenges in terms of geographical terrain and hard-to-reach areas, etc.

“Ensure early tracking of social media and other platforms for possible misinformation and rumours around COVID-19 vaccine that could impact the community acceptance for the vaccine,” the letter said.

The STF will help in providing guidance, including funding and operational guidelines, fixing timelines for districts to plan and implement COVID-19 vaccine introduction whenever a vaccine is made available and identifying vaccinators across government and private sectors so as to minimise disruption of routine immunisation services.

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