India on January 16 began its mammoth coronavirus vaccine rollout by administering 207,229 shots on the first day with the help of hundreds of thousands of health workers who were trained and assisted by the UN agencies.
Roderico H Ofrin, WHO Representative in India, said, “[We] provided technical assistance to the Government of India for the development of operational guidelines and other training materials for state and district programme managers and vaccinators, and establishing tracking and accountability frameworks.”
“WHO field officers have facilitated the highest-level oversight through regular task force meetings at state and district levels, which are chaired by the Principal Secretaries (Health) at the state level, and District Magistrates at the district level”, he further said.
According to an official statement by the UN, the WHO has participated in dry-run simulations and provided feedback on the management of vaccines, registration of beneficiaries, as well as reporting on vaccination coverage and adverse events following immunisation.
Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has assisted India in the advocacy of the information of the vaccines to the stakeholders and communities.
Another UN agency, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has conducted awareness-raising programmes on sexual and reproductive health, and the prevention of gender-based violence, on behalf of some 30 million vulnerable individuals.
Similarly, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has supported the NGOs to identify and register around 19,000 vulnerable households and distributed food packets.
As the various UN agencies continue to assist India in rolling out the vaccines, Ofrin said, “We as individuals and communities must work with the Government to save lives and the economy by protecting health and livelihoods.”
Billed as the world’s largest vaccination programme, covering the entire length and breadth of the country, the drive aims to first vaccinate millions of its healthcare and frontline workers and reach an estimated 3 crore people by the end of its first phase.
The Central government has introduced an application named CoWIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work) to monitor the entire vaccination process.
Two vaccines–Covaxin and Covishield– have received Emergency Use Authorisation (EAU) after going through established safety and immunogenicity in a well-prescribed regulatory process and these will be administered during the vaccination drive.