Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan directs states to be vigilant against rumours on COVID-19 vaccine

In a bid to conduct the smooth implementation of a second dry run on the COVID-19 vaccination on Friday, Indian Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has directed all States/Union Territories to be vigilant against rumours and disinformation campaigns regarding the safety and efficacy of the approved COVID-19 vaccines.
Vardhan chaired a high-level meeting with the entire health ministers of the states including UTs via video conferencing to review the preparedness for the nationwide mock drill on the COVID vaccination scheduled for Friday. The second nationwide mock drill on the COVID-19 vaccination will be held at three-session sites of 736 districts across 33 States/UTs. According to the Indian health ministry, the objective of the mock drill on COVID-19 vaccination is to simulate the actual vaccine administration event.

There have been some rubbish and rumours being propagated on social media which are raising doubts in the mind of the public regarding the covid vaccine side-effects, Vardhan said. “These miscreants might derail the whole exercise, set the clock back by years.”
Last week, the Drugs Controller General of India announced “restricted emergency use” for Bharat Biotech’s ‘Covaxin’ and Serum Institute of India’s ‘Covishield’, which has been developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
The Minister urged the State health authorities to work with the multiple stakeholders and the youth to spread the right information and dispel rumours and mistruths being spread about the COVID-19.
“The dry run will also familiarise the state, district, block, and hospital-level officers on all aspects of COVID-19 roll out. This activity will help administrators in strengthening the linkages between planning, implementation and reporting mechanisms, identification of any residual challenges prior to the actual implementation and to provide confidence to the programme managers at all levels to carry out a smooth implementation of the vaccination drive,” said the health ministry in a statement.

Vardhan directed his state counterparts to ensure that the National Immunisation Day (NID) scheduled on Jan 17 should also be given due importance and non-COVID essential services are not adversely impacted.
The Health Minister informed about the Co-WIN platform that will provide real-time information of vaccine stocks, their storage temperature, and individualised tracking of beneficiaries of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This platform will assist the program managers across all levels through automated session allocation for pre-registered beneficiaries, their verification, and for generating a digital certificate upon successful completion of the vaccine schedule. More than 78 lakh beneficiaries have been already registered on the platform,” he said.
Meanwhile, the health minister reassured all his State counterparts that the country’s cold chain infrastructure has been sufficiently upgraded to ensure last-mile delivery and that adequate supplies of syringes and other logistics have also been provided.
The earlier national mock drill on January 2 helped to iron out any glitches in the final execution and further refinement of the operational procedures. The feedback from most of the States/UTs was satisfactory conduct of the dry run.