Nagaland receives first batch of COVID vaccine

Nagaland receives first batch of COVID vaccine
Correspondent/Staff Reporter KOHIMA/DIMAPUR JAN 14 (NPN) | Publish Date: 1/14/2021 12:25:40 PM IST

Nagaland is all geared up to roll out COVID vaccine on January 16 as the first consignment of Covishield reached Dimapur by an Indigo flight from New Delhi Thursday.

The vaccine was flagged off to the districts by Health & Family Welfare (H&FW) principal secretary Amardeep Singh Bhatia at a brief ceremony at the H&FW directorate here later in the evening.

On the occasion, Bhatia disclosed that 26,500 doses of the Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute of India, in collaboration with Oxford-Astrazeneca, reached the State and was being dispatched to all districts, adding that the vaccine would be administered to over 12,000 healthcare workers after its formal launch on January 16.

He said the entire vaccination process would be closely monitored in order to ensure that there was very little wastage of the vaccine and in full accordance with the guidelines issued by the Centre.

He later demonstrated the level of safety measures followed in packaging the vaccines to preserve it and continue the cold chain while storing and transporting.

As per the schedule, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi officially launches the vaccine on January 16, Nagaland, along with rest of the country, will follow suit and roll out the vaccine at government hospitals across the State.

In the first phase, the vaccine will be administered to healthcare workers, while the vaccine will be given to frontline workers in the second phase. The third phase will make the vaccine available to those aged 50 and above and the fourth phase will include people below 50 years of age and above 18 years who have co-morbid conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular illness, cancer, infectious diseases, and dementia.

The vaccine will not be given to people below 18 years of age since it was yet to be tested on them.

Meanwhile, during a media sensitisation workshop on the vaccine held at Hotel Vivor, Kohima Thursday afternoon, H&FW principal director V. Suokhrie allayed various apprehensions doing the rounds in regard to the vaccine.

He said the vaccine was totally safe as it had passed all the pre-clinical and clinical stages as was done in any other vaccine development, and that the safety and efficacy of the vaccine was given utmost importance.

Regarding its transportation, Suokhrie said that the department was adequately prepared to safely transfer the vaccine that required storing at 2 to 8 degree Celsius. He said 1,206 sites across the State had been identified for administering the vaccine for the first two phases and around 50,000 beneficiaries were expected to be vaccinated.

Suokhrie admitted that, as witnessed in other vaccination drives like polio or hepatitis, there could be a mild fever or slight swelling. However, he assured that these were considered normal and should not be misconstrued otherwise.

“The vaccine is finally here, but all COVID-19 Appropriate Behaviours (CAB) put into place so far has to be properly maintained until 70% of the population has been vaccinated and herd immunity is developed, which is as important as getting vaccinated,” he stressed.

While the vaccine for the first two phases will be available free of cost, more information on the later two phases will be revealed in due course of time as the Centre is yet to take a decision on whether to give it free of cost. 

However, Suokhrie remarked that he was hopeful that it might also be given for free.

UNICEF’s State consultant Dr Longri Kichu shared a PowerPoint presentation at the workshop on the vaccine rollout strategy, landscape and advocacy, communication & social mobilisation.

He said the safest way to get back to a normal life was through mass vaccination and people should not spread rumours that could affect the vaccination process.

Based on reports given by scientists, Kichu said the pandemic was likely to remain even after vaccination and therefore urged people to continue following the standard operating procedures (SOP) that have been in effect since the pandemic began.

He also urged the general public to confirm any news by validating it through websites of WHO, UNICEF, Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Indian Council of Medical Research, Centre for Disease Control, etc.

Meanwhile, a State government statement claimed that Covishield 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 general population by 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 (meaning it creates sufficient antibodies against COVID-19). 

The vaccine will be administered at session sites identified by district taskforces under the chairmanship of deputy commissioners and involving various departments and community organisations in the respective districts. Strict protocol will be ensured in carrying out the vaccination. 

The vaccination drive will start on January 16 in district hospitals of Wokha, Dimapur, Mokokchung, Tuensang, Mon, Zunheboto, Peren and Phek and Naga Hospital Kohima. 

The first phase of vaccination will cover healthcare workers registered on Government of India’s COWIN portal and two doses will be administered to each beneficiary 28 days apart. The beneficiary will get maximum protection from the vaccine 14 days after receiving the second dose or 42 days after receiving the first dose. During the period after receiving the vaccine, the beneficiary is expected to follow COVID appropriate behaviour.

100 beneficiaries to get vax in Dimapur
Earlier, on arrival at Dimapur airport, the COVID vaccine was received by chief medical officer (CMO) Dr. Mereninla Senlem and other officials. 
She said 100 beneficiaries would receive the vaccine at District Hospital, Dimapur in the first phase. Mentioning that she was not sure about the arrival of the next consignment, Dr. Mereninla was hopeful that the State would receive more consignments.  She claimed that the State had good storage facilities for maintaining the required temperature between 2 and 8 degree Celsius. 
According to cold chain operations officer, the State currently had one walk-in cooler, five ice-line refrigerators and three deep freezers to carry out the COVID vaccine drive effectively. 
Plane faces technical snag: The Delhi bound IndiGo passenger flight, that transported the vaccine, was grounded for few hours due to technical snag and took off only at around 7.30 p.m. from Dimapur.

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