New Delhi, Oct 30: The Centre has asked states to constitute committees for coordination and overseeing COVID-19 vaccination drive while ensuring minimal disruptions in other routine healthcare services, and stressed early tracking of social media to dispel rumours which could impact the community acceptance of coronavirus inoculation.
Stating that COVID-19 vaccine introduction will span over a year with multiple groups being included “sequentially starting from health care workers”, the Health Ministry has sought constitution of committees at state and district levels which will review preparatory activities in terms of cold chain preparedness, operational planning, strategies for state-specific challenges in terms of geographical terrain and hard-to-reach areas, etc.
In a letter to states and union territories, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has suggested setting up of a state steering committee (SSC) chaired by the chief secretary, a state task force (STF) led by additional Chief Secretary or principal secretary (health), and a district task force (DTF) to be headed by the district magistrate.
An annexure attached with the letter outlines the terms of references for the committees according to which the state steering committee will ensure active involvement of all departments concerned and devise innovative strategies for improving community engagement (‘Jan Bhagidaari’) for improved coverage of COVID-19 vaccine once it is available.
“Ensure early tracking of social media and other platforms for possible misinformation and rumours around COVID-19 vaccine that could impact the community acceptance for the vaccine,” it said.
The state steering committee will also have to institute a reward/recognition mechanism for achievement of best performing district/block/urban ward, etc.
“The COVID-19 vaccine introduction will span over a year with multiple groups being included sequentially starting from HCWs. Therefore, it is important to create strong advisory and coordination mechanism at state and district level to guide the process of COVID-19 vaccine introduction while ensuring minimal disruption of other routine health care services including immunisation,” the letter issued on October 26 stated.