Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has started preparations for the introduction of COVID-19 vaccine by forming various committees at the State and district levels as per the Centre's direction.

Acting on the October 26 letter from the Union Health Secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, the State government has initiated the process to form a steering committee, a state taskforce and district-level task forces for the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The chief secretary will head the State steering committee which will oversee planning and implementation of the various activities and ensuring inter-departmental coordination and mobilisation of resources.

The State task force, which will be headed by the Additional chief secretary (Health), has been given the task of ensuring smooth implementation of various activities related to COVID-19 vaccine introduction along with its monitoring and mid-course correction, while the district-level task forces led by collectors will look into the overall management of the entire process of introduction of COVID-19 vaccine.

Priority groups such as Healthcare and Anganwadi workers along with other Covid warriors are to be vaccinated first. Later on, elderly people will be administered the vaccine, said reports. The entire vaccination process is likely to take a year's time.

"Vaccine will be available from early next year. We have started preparation prior to two months as we want to be fully prepared when the vaccine comes," Institute of Life Sciences (ILS) director Ajay Parida said.

The Union Health Secretary in his letter had stated, "As you are aware, vaccines could be effective intervention for control of COV1D-19 pandemic. With multiple vaccine candidates in various stages of development, Govt. of India has started preparations for introduction of COVID-19 vaccine. As per the advice of National Expert Group on Vaccination Administration for COVID- 19 (NEGVAC), it is envisaged that the vaccine will be first prioritized for Health Care Workers (HCWs) followed by other front-line workers and age groups."

States have already begun various preparatory activities like assessment of their cold chain space and its augmentation and preparation of database of HCWs etc. As the activities regarding introduction of COV1D- 19 vaccine further expands, it will be important to review their progress in a structured manner and across all levels, the letter read.