The central government has been proactively carrying activities towards preparing for the nationwide roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Sunday held a video conference with administrators from States and UTs and discussed preparation for the nationwide roll-out of COVID-19 vaccine. To this regard, they also held a detailed discussion on CoWIN software which forms the backbone of the last mile vaccine administration.

The meeting was chaired by Ram Sewak Sharma, Chairman of Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management to combat COVID-19 and member, National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of COVID-19.

The meeting was attended by the State Principal Secretaries, NHM Mission Directors, and State Immunisation officers and senior officers of the Health Ministry. During the meeting the feedback of the States/UTs on the Co-WIN software and its operational use, emanating from the dry runs, was discussed in detail.

In the meeting, a detailed presentation was given on the Co-WIN software and the principles that will underpin the technology back-up for the vaccination exercise. The Chairman of Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management to combat COVID-19 said robust, dependable and agile technology will form both the foundation and the back-up for the country’s COVID-19 vaccination which shall be the world’s largest immunisation exercise.

This is an unprecedented scale of immunization, he pointed out. Addressing the participants, he stated that the process should be citizen-centric, and built on the approach that the vaccine shall be available anytime and anywhere. He stressed on the need to be flexible without compromising on quality. He reiterated that the inclusivity, speed and scalability have been kept in mind while designing the unique digital platform with all components being portable, synchronous without excessive and unnecessary dependencies.

The EG Chairperson underscored the critical importance of capturing the vaccination data in real time, stating that this was non-negotiable; while the posting of data on the portal may be online or offline in view of connectivity issues being highlighted by few states.

He also critically highlighted the caution one needs to exercise to ensure that there are ‘no proxies’ at all; the beneficiaries need to be uniquely and undeniably identified, he strongly reiterated.

Speaking on the use of Aadhar platform, he advised the States to urge the beneficiaries to seed their current mobile number with Aadhar for registration and consequent communication through SMS; there cannot be any proxies for Aadhar authentication. He pointed out that it is extremely important to clearly identify person who is getting vaccinated and keep a digital record on who gets vaccinated by whom, when and which vaccine. He also advised the States and UTs that the data collection should meet the purpose of facilitating work and that needs to be validated at the field levels.

There was a detailed and comprehensive discussion on the experience of the States/UTs. Their feedback and the consequent changes in software/protocols based on those inputs were deliberated upon. These included issues such as: Session allocation/planning/time slotting; Workflow allocation; Vaccinator’s allocation; Sending SMS to vaccinators and beneficiaries; and connectivity issues.