MUMBAI: As part of a countrywide vaccine dry run, Maharashtra will have a dry run across the state on January 8. Public health minister Rajesh Tope said Maharashtra is geared up for the vaccination drive, which can begin once stocks are available for the state.
However, the state will seek clarification from the Centre on the use of the two approved vaccines during a meeting with the Union health ministry scheduled for January 7.
“There are some clarifications we will seek from the Centre about the approved vaccines as they have been cleared for use citing an emergency situation. We will raise our concerns with the Union health ministry,” Tope said.
There have already been two countrywide dry runs.
Maha to raise UK flights, free vaccine with Centre
The first nationwide was held on December 27 and 28, and on January 2 the second one was done on a wider scale. The January 2 dry run, which was held in four districts of Maharashtra—Pune, Jalna, Nandurbar and Nagpur—brought to light internet glitches at several sites. “Minor issues experienced in using the Co-Win application have been streamlined based on feedback we had received from various states,” said Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan.
“Maharashtra will join the nationwide dry run on January 8. It will be conducted in every district of the state. The drill will be helpful for the state to see whether the system developed for mass vaccination is working properly or not,” Tope said.
Tope said two other issues-—quarantining of passengers from Europe, Middle East and South Africa and giving vaccines free to people who cannot afford to pay—will be raised at the meeting with the Union health ministry.
“Two doses will cost Rs 500 as every person needs to take two, and for some people, at Rs 500 it may not be affordable. However, I am of the opinion that the Centre should bear the cost of purchasing vaccines and supplying them to Maharashtra. As the Centre has already stopped supply of masks, ventilators and RT-PCR kits, the Maharashtra government is procuring these items by spending from the state exchequer. The state cannot ignore its duty when help from the Centre is not coming,” Tope said.
He also expressed concerns over the possibility of the resumption of flights between India and the UK, where a new strain of coronavirus has emerged. “Resumption of these flights is a matter of concern for us. We have traced 95% of passengers who landed in Mumbai between November 25 and December 21. Tracing is on for the rest. If more passengers start coming, we will have to increase screening and testing facilities,” he said.
“I think the Centre will inform the state in the next 10 days about the large-scale availability of dosages. The data of nearly 7.5 lakh health workers in Maharashtra is already uploaded on the Co-Win application. And we are going to use only hospitals to vaccinate people in the first phase as capacity is more than sufficient and in case of a reaction, things will be handled well,” Tope said.
Dr D Patil, state immunisation officer, said they are expecting the number of healthcare staff beneficiaries to reach 8 lakh as some private health institutions were still uploading their data.