Covid-19 vaccination: Bihar prepares for state-wide dry run on January 8

All 38 districts of Bihar will have a dry run on January 8 for smooth roll-out of the coronavirus vaccination programme. It will be conducted at three types of sites in every district including medical college/ district hospital, private facility, urban/rural outreach centre under the overall leadership of district magistrates with close supervision by the state health officials.

Earlier, a limited dry run in identified districts of the country was held on January 2 to assess the preparedness, including testing of the CoWIN IT system. Three session sites each in the district headquarters of Patna, Bettiah and Jamui were selected for the dry run then.

Handling the CoWIN portal has so far been the biggest challenge for Bihar’s health personnel who are to be engaged in the vaccination drive. They feel the application is ‘heavily technologically driven’ and even a small error in handling the programme could hold up the drive.

As per an internal assessment done by the state health department, many auxiliary nursing midwives (ANMs), engaged in the vaccination programme, are not technologically savvy and have not handled android devices like smartphones or tablets, which are likely to host the CoWIN application, which is integrated with the vaccination drive.

Vaccinators are required to verify each beneficiary’s identity, approve the vaccination before completing the vaccination process using the CoWIN mobile app, which is updated on a real-time basis.

A series of training sessions have been held in Bihar for vaccinators since December end.

“We completed Wednesday, a two-day hands-on training programme for our district immunization officers and district monitoring and evaluation officers, who are the key resource persons in the IT process. They will now train the people under them. Prior to this training, we also had online sessions for our vaccinators,” said Manoj Kumar, executive director State Health Society and also the nodal officer for the vaccination programme in Bihar.

“We do not expect any shortage of personnel for the Covid-19 vaccination programme. We have 14,000 vaccinators engaged in our routine immunization programme. Besides, we have also identified another 45,000 potential vaccinators, who are doctors, nurses, medicos, nursing students and paramedics in public and private health facilities,” he said.

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He added that the January 8 exercise, to be conducted at three sites in all the 38 districts of the state, will help in better assessment of any shortcoming.

He added that Bihar does not have any storage constraint with the capacity to store 51 lakh vials at the state level vaccine store in Patna and at regional vaccine stores.

The average storage capacity of walk-in coolers is 15 lakh vials and the average capacity of walk-in freezers is 5 lakh vials. Vaccines are supplied to 10 regional vaccine stores in the state through refrigerated vans and cold boxes. For field-level vaccination, it has around 2,000 ice-lined refrigerators.

Bihar has enrolled around 10 lakh beneficiaries for the first two phases of vaccination for healthcare and frontline workers from among the priority group of 1.5 crore to 2 crore people which also includes those above 50 years of age and people with co-morbidity.

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