Around 19,690 health care workers registered for vaccination
Dimapur/Kohima, January 14: With just two days left for the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination drive to begin in the entire country, the first lot of 26500 Covishield vaccines for Nagaland reached Dimapur in an Indigo airplane from Delhi on Thursday.
The vaccines packed in 3 freezers were received by Chief Medical Officer Dimapur, Dr Mereninla Senlem, Dr Keshka and other officials from Medical Department, Kohima at Dimapur Airport and was transported in a special vehicle to Kohima.
CMO Dimapur, Dr Mereninla Senlem informed media persons that a total of 26500 doses of vaccines were received today. State Immunization Officer, Dr Ritu Thurr also confirmed that the State has received 26,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which will cover 13,250 beneficiaries (2 doses).
Dr Ritu Thurr informed that Nagaland received the Covishield vaccine manufactured by M/s Serum Institute of India, which is a collaboration of the OXFORD- ASTRAZENECA project. He assured that the Covishield vaccine has gone through all pre-clinical and clinical stages as with any other vaccine development and has been evaluated to be very safe for use in the general population by the Drug Controller General of India.
The vaccine has been found to have more than 70% efficacy from the clinical trials with good levels of immunogenicity (which means that it creates sufficient antibodies against COVID-19), he said.
In Kohima at a media sensitization workshop on COVID-19 vaccination at Hotel Vivor, Principal Director of Health Department, Dr Vizolie Suokhrie informed that Nagaland will join the nation in the official launch of the vaccination programme on January 16 in presence of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, which will be held right after Prime Minister Narendra Modi opens the campaign in Delhi at 9 am.
Assuring that Nagaland is fully geared to roll out the vaccination campaign, Dr Suokhrie said it will be done in four phases starting with 19,690 health workers in both Government and private sectors.
In the second phase, frontline workers, including police, administration and sanitation workers number around 30,000 will be vaccinated, he said, adding that third phase will be for persons above 50 years of age numbering 3,49,757 as per the electoral roll followed by persons below 50 & above 18 with comorbid conditions.
The first 2 phases will be free, while a decision for the third and fourth phases – whether it would be free or in subsidized manner – will be announced subsequently, depending on the decision of the Central Government.
“Currently these vaccines are yet to be marketed and not available anywhere in the market,” he informed.
The vaccine will be administered in 2 doses with 28 days apart. Suokhrie said maximum protection will be only after 14 days from the second dose or 42 days after the first dose.
Asked as to why those below 18 years of age are not included in the vaccination programme, State Nodal Officer State for Integrated Disease Control Programme, Dr Nyanthung Kikon said “no vaccine trial has been conducted on populations below 18 years of age”. He observed that the effect of COVID-19 on the population below 18 is not much while their strong immune system also helps them beat the virus.
Allaying the myths and misconceptions on the side effects of the vaccine, Dr Suokhrie said except for mild effects such as body pain or fever, which is a normal reaction, there are no other major side effects.
“It is not easy to develop a vaccine and without fully ascertaining its efficacy, it would not have been used on humans,” he affirmed, adding that the State health department has already put in place all medicines to control discomfort during the vaccination. “All vaccines are safe,” he assured.
The first two phase vaccination would be carried out in 1,206 immunization sites including District Hospitals, PHC and CHC spread across the State, he informed.
For the third and fourth phases, the line departments along with school building and community halls will be utilized, he said.
On storage facility, Dr Suokhrie said the State has 119 cold chain points and adequate numbers of preservative facilities, including coolers and deep freezers. All this is possible and easier because of the routine Immunization programme, he said, adding that even if large quantity of vaccines comes, we will be able to store and utilize it.
Expressing apprehension on likely unwanted situation by some people to snatch away the vaccines, he said proper security arrangement have already been put in place for smooth and peaceful roll out of the vaccine.
State Immunization Officer, Dr Ritu Thurr informed that the State has 119 functional cold chain points where temperature is maintained between +2 to+ 8 degrees Celsius and monitored digitally by the electronic vaccine intelligence network and manually by trained technicians and supervisors.
On the duration of protection for vaccinated persons against COVID-19, Dr Suokhrie said it is wrong information that the protection would be life long as the duration of protection is yet to be ascertained and that will be known only with passage of time of the vaccination.
‘COVID-19 not over’
On the notion that COVID-19 is over with availability of vaccine, he reminded that “we still do not know for how many more months, if not for years, it will continue… we are also worried after all this festivities if there is spike in positivity rate”.
However, the principal directed assured that the State is prepared.
‘COVID-19 appropriate bevahiour’
State Coordinator for UNICEF, Dr Longri Kichu said even as the vaccines have reached one has to strictly adhere to COVID appropriate behaviors (CAB) at all times, even after the vaccination.
“COVID vaccine along with CAB is effective in protecting individuals from COVID -19,” he insisted, while informing that all beneficiaries will have to be registered in COWIN portal.
It was also informed that the district wise distribution of vaccines will be strictly as per registration in the COWIN portal. (Page News Service)