Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch India's COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 via video conferencing and adequate doses of the two made-in-India vaccines have been delivered across the country to all states and Union Territories, the government said on Thursday.
This will be the world's largest vaccination programme covering the entire length and breadth of the country and all preparations are in place to initiate the programme on the principles of 'Jan Bhagidari', the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
Prime Minister Modi will launch the pan-India rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 at 10:30 am via video conferencing, the PMO said.
A total of 3,006 session sites across all states and UTs will be virtually connected during the launch and around 100 beneficiaries will be vaccinated at each session site on the first day, the statement said.
Separately, sources said Modi is likely to interact via video link with some healthcare workers from across the country who will be receiving the shots on the first day.
Officials at New Delhi's AIIMS and Safdarjung hospitals, which are among the shortlisted facilities, said they are "ready for a two-way communication".
The PMO statement said the vaccination programme is based on principles of priority groups to be vaccinated first. Healthcare workers, both in the government and private sectors, including Integrated Child Development Services workers, will receive the vaccine during this phase.
The Drugs Controller General of India had earlier this month approved Oxford COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive.
Adequate doses of both Covishield and Covaxin have already been delivered across the country to all States/UTs with the active support of the ministry of civil aviation. These have been further delivered by the State/UT governments to the districts, the PMO said.
The vaccination programme will use Co-WIN, an online digital platform developed by Union health ministry, which will facilitate real-time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualised tracking of beneficiaries for COVID-19 vaccine.
This digital platform will assist programme managers across all levels while conducting vaccination sessions, the PMO said.
A dedicated 24x7 call centre -- 1075 -- has also been established for addressing the queries related to COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine rollout and the Co-WIN software.
Earlier in the day, the health ministry said, "The massive countrywide COVID-19 vaccination drive will be rolled out by Prime Minister from January 16... Therefore, it has been decided by the ministry of health in consultation with the office of the President of India to reschedule the Polio vaccination day, also known as the National Immunisation Day or 'Polio Ravivar' to January31."
The full initial procurement of 1.65 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines - Covishield and Covaxin-- has been allocated to all states and UTs in proportion to their healthcare workers database.
"Therefore, there is no question of discrimination against any State in the allocation of vaccination doses. This is an initial lot of supply of vaccine doses and would be continuously replenished in the weeks to come. Therefore, any apprehension being expressed on account of deficient supply is totally baseless and unfounded," the ministry said.
States have been advised to organise vaccination sessions taking into account 10 per cent reserve/wastage doses and an average of 100 vaccinations per session per day.
Therefore, any undue haste on the parts of the states to organise unreasonable numbers of vaccination per site per day is not advised, the ministry had said on Wednesday.
The states and UTs have also been advised to increase the number of vaccination session sites that would be operational every day in a progressive manner as the vaccination process stabilizes and moves forward.
According to the government, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers, and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated co-morbidities.
Cost of vaccination of healthcare and frontline workers will be borne by the central government.