State set for vaccine delivery: Health Minister

Preparations are being made for vaccine storage and delivery, Health and Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar said

Following directions from the Centre, Karnataka has initiated measures for COVID-19 vaccine delivery, distribution and administration, with the State’s task force also deliberating on the issue, Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar said on Tuesday.

The Minister said the government has identified 29,451 session sites (vaccination sites) and 10,008 vaccinators as per the norms of the Universal Immunisation Programme.

Health Care Workers data has already been compiled for all the government facilities. A total of 80% of the private health facilities have also shared their data. Compilation of data for the remaining 20% private facilities is likely to be completed in a week’s time, the Minister said in a statement.

Cold storage facilities

The State has around 2,855 cold chain points for storage and distribution of vaccines. With a view to have a better supply chain network and distribution of vaccines in a timely manner, three new regional vaccine stores – Bengaluru Urban, Shivamogga and Ballari have been proposed. These newly proposed regional vaccine stores will also require additional Walk-in-Coolers and Walk-in-Freezers to be supplied, the Minister said.

Pointing out that assessment of vaccine stores has been completed, he said the State has 10 Walk-in-Coolers and four Walk-in-Freezers. “The Union Health Ministry is going to supply three Walk-in-Coolers and two Walk-in-Freezers for which necessary civil work is being initiated. In order to have an exact assessment of the cold storage capacity required for COVID-19 vaccine programme, we first need to assess the number of doses in each vial, the volume of a vial etc. We have already requested the Union Ministry to share this information,” he said.


Dry storage

On dry storage facility, Mr. Sudhakar said that State has begun the process to assess the requirements. Regarding usage of Animal Husbandry Department’s facilities, the Minister said that in order to have adequate capacity the cold storage facilities under the department are also being compiled. Further, the spare cold storage facilities available with private hospitals, especially hospital chains are also being assessed.

BBMP makes preparations

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has till date registered 95,011 health workers in the city. Most of the government healthcare facilities and medical and paramedical colleges have registered those working or studying there. However, only 1,450 of 4,275 private healthcare facilities in the city have enrolled their employees.

According to BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad, the existing infrastructure — storage capacity of 23 lakh vaccine vials, 500 enrolled vaccinators and over 4,000 centres that have earlier administered polio and measles vaccines —is more than enough for the immunisation drive for health workers in the first phase.

However, this infrastructure needs to be augmented to meet a pan city immunisation drive, expected at a later stage. Presently, BBMP has 47 Ice Lined Refrigerators (ILRs) at primary health centres and civic hospitals, each of which can hold up to 50,000 vaccine vials, adding upto 23.5 lakh storage capacity. The civic body carried out a vaccination drive against measles in 2017, when they administered 23 lakh vaccines.

“We are identifying other resources in the city – there are three walk-in coolers at Veterinary Science College, Hebbal and there is capacity even at private hospitals in the city. We will build one or two walk-in coolers, if necessary,” Mr. Prasad said.

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Sagar Biswas

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