The Maharashtra government expects around 50,000 of its health workers to be inoculated on the first day of the world’s biggest Covid-19 vaccination drive, starting from January 16 across India, with around 100 people set to be vaccinated at each of the 511 centres in the state. Mumbai has the most vaccination centres at 72, while Pune has 55.
Although the Centre, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video conference, did not clarify on the number of vaccine doses the state will get in the first round, the state expects 1.6 million doses for 800,000 workers over the next two months.
State health minister Rajesh Tope said, “The state has set a target of 50,000 health workers to be vaccinated on the first day itself. Each of the 511 centres will have a batch of 100 health workers enrolled for vaccination. Some of the health workers may opt out of the vaccination. But the health workers are expected to set an example before the common people by getting vaccinated. There is no need be afraid of it as it is a safe vaccine.”
Meanwhile, the state reported 2,438 new Covid-19 cases and added 40 deaths on Monday. The daily caseload slumped below 2,500 after two weeks. The case tally has thus touched 1,971,552, while the toll has reached 50,101. Mumbai reported 434 cases and seven deaths, taking the tally to 299,326 and toll to 11,193.
After the video conference with Modi, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with health department officials. “The transportation, storage of the vaccine and the vaccination drive should be implemented with due diligence. The cooperation among various state machineries is important. The authorities should also ensure that the people do not lower the guard and continue with Covid-19 appropriate behaviour,” he said.
There was no word from the Centre over the bearing of the cost of the vaccine doses meant for people in the third phase and beyond.
“We have been told that the Centre is going to bear the cost for the vaccine to health and frontline workers in first two phases. These two phases will take at least 4-5 months to complete, after which the vaccination of the people above 50 years of age and with comorbidities will begin in third phase. The Centre expects more vaccines to throng the market by then, making the decision over the cost easier. The prime minister is expected to hold another meeting with chief ministers after 60% of the vaccination is completed in the first two phases (health and frontline workers),” said a health department official, requesting anonymity.
Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, made a presentation in the meeting, giving information about the procedure to follow for the vaccination.
“We have vaccination centres at 511 locations across the state and they are all set to roll out the drive from the first day. We have highest, 72, centres in Mumbai, 55 in Pune and the allotment of the centre to the districts and cities are based on the number of enrolments of beneficiaries. We expect the first phase of vaccination of 800,000 health workers to be finished in less than two months. Though there is no clarity on the stock of the doses we are getting from the Serum Institute of India, in Pune, we do not see any problem in rolling it out smoothly,” said Dr Ramaswami N, commissioner, family welfare, and director, National Health Mission.
He said the number of centres would be increased, gradually based on the need.
DN Patil, state immunisation officer said, “We will augment our capacity to 1,000 booths in coming days from 511 after gauging the demand and availability of vaccine doses. In first phase, 800,000 health workers will be vaccinated. Of them, 780,000 have been registered on the Co-WIN app. We have to implement the drive without allowing our routine works to be hampered.”
Meanwhile, the state’s case fatality rate (CFR) dropped to 2.54%, while the number of active cases slightly rose to 52,288. The highest number of active cases are in Pune (14,779), followed by Thane (10,142) and Mumbai (7,370). State’s recovery rate has touched 94.75% as 1,867,988 people have recovered from the infection.