Protocols were put in place to manage adverse reactions – minor, severe or serious – to the coronavirus vaccine, the government said at a news conference on Tuesday evening, acknowledging that there is always “the possibility of an adverse event” post-immunization.
The government said the rules – published as part of vaccination guidelines that include restrictive vaccinations per session and 30 minutes of on-site post-injection monitoring – are necessary because the vaccines were designed for adults, while existing mechanisms were intended for children.
“Bad post-immunization events are a critical aspect. Even during universal immunization, which has been going on for decades, some harmful effects are visible in children and pregnant women. So we cannot deny the possibility of an adverse event,” Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, adding that negative effects have already been reported from countries where vaccination has begun.
“So, it is essential that states and union territories also prepare for this,” he added.
As part of the unfavorable event mechanisms, state governments will set up at least one AEFI center (Disadvantaged Event Post Immunization) in each block.
In addition, primary care facilities, community health centers and private medical facilities would also function as AEFI Management Centers, with vaccine data from each session to be uploaded via the government’s digital platform Co-WIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network).
Other measures include asking states to avoid, as far as possible, mixing various vaccines.
The government has also set up a multi-level me mechanism to control vaccination at various levels, and said 36 states and union territories have already held more than 600 meetings.
“There are a large number of beneficiaries to deal with in a small period of time, so it is a bigger challenge,” said Dr. VK Paul, a member of government think tank NITI Aayog.
Dr Paul also said the government is aware of the reports of fungal infections in patients recovered from Covid at Delhi hospital. “New things are being discovered constantly with the disease,” he said, adding that the doctors at the facility would take necessary actions.
Today’s press report also discussed the issue of cold chain management – important because the vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer must be kept at -70 degrees Celsius to maintain effectiveness.
The government said guidelines for cooling cold chains and cold spots (or vaccine deliveries) have been issued. 240 inlet refrigerators, 70 inlets, 45,000 ice-cold refrigerators, 41,000 refrigerators and 300 solar refrigerators will be used at vaccine sites and warehouses.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be offered first to health workers, frontline workers and people over 50, followed by people younger than 50 with associated comorbidities, and finally to the remaining population based on disease epidemiology and vaccine availability.
With PTI input