Vaccine at home for differently-abled: Govt

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New Delhi, Sept 23 (PTI): The government on Thursday announced that differently-abled people and those with restricted mobility and special needs will be given Covid-19 vaccine doses at their homes.
The relevant orders and advisory have already been issued to states and union territories, officials said, adding authorities concerned have been asked to initiate the ‘process of line-listing’ these beneficiaries and their vaccination ‘at the earliest’.
Addressing a press conference here on the overall Covid situation, the officials said the country is still in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic even though the number of daily new cases are declining.
NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul said, “I am pleased to inform that we have made a provision for those people who are disabled, have restricted mobility or have some special needs and are not able to reach the vaccination centre, they can get vaccinated at home in a supervised manner following SOPs (standard operating procedures).”
State governments, district administrations and municipal corporations will be engaged in this exercise, he said.
“Because we have confidence that our vaccines are safe and the arrangement we will be making will be safe, effective, nurturing and supportive. We will follow the SOPs and our teams will be encouraged at the local levels for this,” he said.
Cautioning that the second wave is not over yet and the virus can cause new outbreaks, he requested people to celebrate festivities at home and not overcrowd markets or pandals.
No negligence must be made in “these months as it can prove to be very costly for us” and the situation can get out of control, he said.
“In these months, which are being called as risky periods by the experts, we need to stay aware and ensure that we remain safe.”
Paul further said, “We will make every effort for the vaccination program and we will strive hard as a nation to ensure that no one is left behind.”
Union Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said there are still some persons who might be bed-ridden or have extremely restricted mobility or disability and/or special needs that may hamper their accessibility even to NHCVCs (Near to Home Covid vaccination Centres).
“It is advised that a line-list of such potential beneficiaries and their care-givers may be prepared in the catchment area of every planning unit and collated at district level,” he said in a letter sent to states and UTs date September 22.
Vaccination of such beneficiaries may be facilitated at their place of residence using mobile vaccination teams, he said.
Bhushan further said that during such an exercise, it should be ensured that vaccine wastage is minimal and all SOPs related to maintenance of cold chain, prescribed temperature, safe injections, waste disposal, Adverse Events Following Immunisation etc. are followed diligently.
“I request you to kindly direct the concerned officials to initiate the process of line-listing of aforementioned beneficiaries and their vaccination at the earliest so that this vulnerable section of our community also receives full protection conferred by Covid-19 vaccination,” he said in the letter addressed to states’ and UTs’ health officials.
Under Covid guidelines for the upcoming festival season, mass gatherings have to be avoided in containment zones and in districts with over 5 per cent positivity rate, officials also told the press conference.
“We are still in the midst of the second wave of Covid-19 while we may see a decline in cases. So Covid-appropriate behaviour has to be maintained at all times and the pace of vaccination has to be increased,” Bhushan said.
He said 62.73 percent of the total cases in the last week were reported from Kerala alone and it is the only state with more than 1 lakh active cases presently.
Thirty-three districts in the country – 13 from Kerala, eight from Mizoram, four from Meghalaya, three each from Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and two from Sikkim are reporting a weekly positivity rate of over 10 per cent.
Twenty-three districts are reporting a weekly positivity between 5 to 10 per cent, Bhushan said.
Indian Council of Medical Research director General Balram Bhargava said mass congregations have to be avoided and, most importantly, non-essential travels whether related to festivity or holidays be discouraged for the next few months.
On when the WHO approval to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin may come, Bhushan said the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) is a scientific grouping within the WHO and its meetings are decided by WHO “so we would not like comment on date or timing of the SAGE meeting”.
SAGE is authorised with advising the WHO on overall global policies and strategies.
On Zydus vaccine and Covaxin for children, Bhargava said Covaxin studies are in final phases and soon results are expected which will be submitted to drug comptroller and then the subject expert committee will look into it and if it gives approval then it can be used.
On Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines’ approval in India, Paul said, “The government is looking at all approaches to ensure optimum supply of vaccines and in that endeavor our discussions with foreign manufacturers and our facilitation for their regulatory processes has been our activity, action and policy.
“And we are keeping all our possibilities in mind and looking at holistic picture with the goal of achieving optimum supply of vaccines.”

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