COVID-19: Vaccination programme running smoothly, says National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma

National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma. (Photo Source: IE)

COVID-19 vaccination has entered the second phase and as it progresses, the next target for National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma is to make sure that people will have more options of hospitals close to their home. In an interview to The Indian Express, Sharma also said that more and more people are coming out for vaccination during the second phase in which senior citizens and people with comorbidities are being inoculated.

“We saw an increase of around 75 per cent and hopefully the number will increase in the coming days,” Sharma was quoted as saying in the report.

Talking about the plans in the next 3-6 months, Sharma said that the vaccination programme against COVID-19 is running smoothly and the system implemented for the process is very good as it gives people the flexibility to register, choose the vaccination centre of their choice, schedule or reschedule appointments and get the vaccination done. “We are also working on fine-tuning timings. The timings will be divided into slots. This is very much doable.”

“There is a plan for going forward. It is to have a demand-driven registration system for COVID-19 vaccination open to citizens and also covering many hospitals to make sure that facilities are close to their homes. This plan will be subjected to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and how people respond to it,” Sharma said.

On the possibility of new vaccines getting government approval, Sharma said that they too will be included in the system and the process of distribution will be similar. “The only thing is that people will not have the choice of choose from the available vaccines. However, we are making sure that a person gets the same vaccine during the full course of vaccination.”

When asked to explain how this is being ensured, especially when supplies of vaccines may differ, Sharma said that keeping the data of everybody getting vaccinated and issuing a digital certificate are helping in this.

“So we have the data of everybody. This helps us to send the same vaccine to the designated centre. But in case there is some change, we will direct the person to visit a different centre where the same vaccine (received during the first dose) is available,” he said.

As the entire exercise is time-sensitive, a person gets the appointment for the second dose as soon as he or she gets the first.

“Though it a voluntary process, this is done to avoid any glitch or technical error. We cannot do anything if the person decides not to come for the second dose. If the person wants to reschedule, it can be done in a week to 10 days’ flexibility.”

Sharma also emphasised that a lot of efforts are being put to protect the data of people getting vaccinated from cyberattacks. “The data is not being distributed anywhere and is at the back-end of our system. Standard methods of encryption and various kinds of firewalls are also being used.”

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