The Government of India has begun its preparedness for possible introduction of Covid 19 vaccine and a National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid 19 (NEGVAC) has been formed as the apex group that will guide the strategies for vaccine introduction. It is anticipated that initially the supply of vaccine shall be limited in view of the huge demand. Consequently, a prioritization of socio-demographic groups shall be done for vaccination and subsequently other groups shall be included.
With this in view, a State Steering Committee has been formed with the chief secretary as the chairman to develop a coordination mechanism at the state and district level for assessment of various activities like cold chain availability and its augmentation, preparation of a database of health workers etc to ensure readiness for the introduction of Covid19 vaccine in Sikkim.
The first meeting of the State Steering Committee was held at the Tashiling Secretariat under the chairmanship of chief secretary S.C. Gupta. The meeting was conducted by the Health and Family Welfare Department, Government of Sikkim and was attended by heads of departments (members of the SSC), and senior officers of the health department.
The objective of the meeting was to sensitize the State Steering Committee on the new developments regarding the vaccine and facilitate discussion on various aspects of planning and implementation (of the vaccine programme) in the state, with a coordinated set of efforts from all concerned.
The need to increase institutional testing and introduction of mobile testing facilities were also discussedA detailed presentation on the objective of the meeting and the preparedness on Covid19 vaccination were made by Dr. T. Yamphel, principal director cum MD (NHM).
Chief Secretary, S.C. Gupta, said that the Covid 19 vaccination programme has to be done exactly in the same way as all vaccination programmes of the past. The first task would be to select the groups to be vaccinated in the first phase and determining the logistical requirements thereof, he said. He called for coordinated efforts from all the designated departments at every stage.
The chief secretary maintained that the Covid 19 situation in the state is stable but there is need for all necessary precautions even now. The meeting also discussed the new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home, Government of India. The district collectors also briefed on the Covid 19 situation in the districts and shared their response to the new guidelines issued by the Government of India. The need to increase institutional testing and introduction of mobile testing facilities were also discussed. The logistical preparedness of the state for the proposed vaccination programme was also discussed in detail. Dr. P. Denzongpa, DHS, RCH cum state immunization officer, provided a brief report of the logistics that are being planned.
The meeting had the presence of secretaries of various line departments and was joined (through video conferencing) by the district collectors, army officers, paramilitary forces and officers of WHO.