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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: With the Union Health Ministry giving the green signal to roll out  Covid-19 vaccines across the country from coming Makar Sankrati, Odisha will also see the first dispatch of vaccines reaching the State by January 13-14.

Even though Odisha had conducted the dry run for Covid-19 vaccines in all districts on January 2, the question still remains if the State is actually ready to take up this gigantic task of vaccination.

While manpower will not be a bump for the State, given the hands-on experience it has from UIP (Universal Immunisation Programme), still the State will face a big test when the critical task of administering vaccine to a population of over 3.2 lakh is put into action.

The test is whether Odisha has the capacity at the level of ‘cold chain points’ to store the massive vaccine dispatches.

The Big Challenge

As vaccines are susceptible to temperature variations, storing of vaccines appropriately will not only preserve its efficacy but also minimises the wastage as the Centre has already coined the slogan of ‘One needle, One Syringe, One Vaccine’.

"Since the Covid-19 vaccines are to be stored at a temperature of 2 - 8 degrees Celsius, those will be kept in ILRs (Ice Lined Refrigerators). We have 1,222 Cold Chain Points (CCP) in our State, which are more than sufficient to carry out the Corona virus vaccination drive. However, the capacity of ILRs (Ice Lined refrigerators) in the CCPs need to be augmented. And the State health department has already initiated procurement of more ILRs for storing Covid-19 vaccines," informed Niranjan Mishra, Director, Public Health.

Space Matters

As per the data available with the National Health Mission (NHM), Odisha has currently over 1,796 ILRs for storing the vaccines under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). The capacity of the ILRs in State stood at approximately 2.03 lakh litres, informed highly placed sources.

Sources further added that the Covid-19 vaccination is a different ball game as the target group is larger.

In the first phase of Covid-19 vaccination the shot will be given to all health workers across the State. An estimate shows that Odisha would need over 7 lakh doses for the Phase -I vaccination.

How many Extras Needed?

“Though no details have been played out as yet, we assume the packed vaccine volume per dose will be around 5ml. Accordingly, the storage volume of ILRs needed to store the over 7 lakh doses is estimated at around 3,500 litres. The State government has already requested the Centre to provide assistance for around 1000 ILRs,” explained a very senior health official while requesting anonymity. He informed that the procurement process has been initiated and “We don’t see any glitch whatsoever in storing the Covid-19 vaccines.”

Cold Chain White Paper

A reality check of cold chain equipment in Odisha reveals the following:

  • There are 1,796 ILRs in around 1,222 cold chain points in the State
  • Number of deep freezers at 1,771
  • Besides, it has only one walk-in freezer and over a dozen solar powered equipment

 

“Odisha has asked the Centre to provide over a dozen of walk-in freezers for safe transportation of the vaccines. We also need nearly 500 deep freezers. However, augmenting will not prove a hurdle in Covid-19 vaccination drive,” opined the senior official.

Key Players’ Info

ILR: Is known as ice lined refrigerators. This equipment is used to store vaccines at the PHC (Primary Health Care) level. It maintains a temperature of 2-8 deg C. The equipment can maintain the temperature range for 24-hours with only 8 hours of power supply. It can store 63 -160 vaccine packs.

Deep Freezers: This equipment has the capacity to maintain a temperature range of  (-)18 to (-)28 deg C. It has been designed in such a way that the equipment can maintain the temperature range even in the event of power failure.

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