(This story originally appeared inon Oct 24, 2020)NEW DELHI: After priority use of the anti-Covid vaccine and once mass production picks up, the Centre may consider including it in theuniversal immunisation programme(UIP) — that provides vaccines for free in government hospitals to specific beneficiary categories — depending on its efficacy, immunogenicity and the Covid-19 situation at that point in time, senior government officials said.
As of now, the government is working actively on the draft prioritisation plan and has started collecting data for different categories of beneficiaries who will be immunised on priority once the vaccine is available.
At least 15 states have started feeding data of their healthcare workers in public as well as private sector on a new beneficiary module recently created by the Centre, whereas details for procurement and distribution of Covid-19 vaccine are being worked out by the NECVAC, a health ministry official said.
Officials also said political announcements so far have not impacted the current plan and the ongoing work to implement it. They also indicated that announcements about free vaccines — in the Bihar BJP manifesto and by other states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — are also in line with the government’s UIP which provides vaccines for free.
“Today universal immunisation is free. The Centre procures vaccines for universal immunisation after tendering and paying a cost. We make it available to states free of cost. We do not charge the states and the states immunise without charging the beneficiary. How is this going to change?” a health ministry official told TOI.
In a two-hour long meeting with state governments on Friday, senior health ministry officials discussed creation of beneficiary database.
While the database for healthcare workers is expected to be ready by end of October, that for front-line workers and people above 50 years of age is in place.
“The database which is not there and that we will have to create is that of people with comorbidities. We have a database from screening of people at 48,000 health centres but that is an incomplete database. So, we have started making a standard database for that. We will share it with states very soon,” the official further said.
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