Union Health Secretary Shri Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting today with all States/UTs in the presence of Union Pharma Secretary Ms. S. Aparna. The progress of COVID-19 vaccination was reviewed and States were advised to focus on enhancing second dose coverage as well as immunization of school teachers and staff (both government and private). States were apprised on prompt utilization of Emergency COVID Response Package (ECRP) funds. States were also advised to ensure compliance of COVID Appropriate Behaviour and other precautionary measures ahead of the upcoming festival season.
Union Health Secretary stressed on having a definite district level plan to increase coverage of second dose. States were advised to undertake targeted strategies like earmarking specific days/ specific vaccination sites (CVC)s/ specific timings every day/ separate queue to exclusively administer second dose of the vaccines. They were also advised to undertake widespread IEC campaigns for enhanced awareness among the beneficiaries. The States were also requested to identify districts whose vaccine coverage is lower than the State average and monitor as well as enhance progress of vaccination in these districts.
In line with the announcement made by Union Health Minister, more than 2 crore additional vaccine doses will be dispatched to the States from 27th August to 31st August, 2021 to vaccinate school teachers and non-teaching staff on a priority basis. States/UTs may use UDISE (Unified District Information System of Education) data and co-ordinate with State Education Departments, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Navodaya Vidyalaya Sangathanetc. providing necessary fillip to this vaccination programme.
Union Health Secretary also cautioned the States regarding a spike/surge in COVID cases during the upcoming festival season and advised them to undertake all possible public health measures to curb this. He cited the example of Kerala where a visible rise of cases has been registered over the past week post Onam.
With 50% fund of ECRP-II Package already disbursed to the States/UTs by the Union Government, States/UTs were advised to process procurement and supply orders immediately to procure equipment, machinery, beds, drugs, etc. under thetime bound ECRP-II package. States were requested to make month wise expenditure plan and oversee corresponding physical progress on the ground.
The policy of maintaining adequate buffer stock of medicines used in treating COVID-19 was reviewed. States can also procure and maintain a buffer stock of COVID medicines they deem necessary other the eight essential COVID drugs compulsorily mandated byUnion Health Ministry.
Union Secretary (Pharma) alerted the States that most of these medicines can be supplied for use only after two to four weeks post production (when the batch undergoes necessary quality testing) which calls for advance planning for their procurement. Encouraging the States to stock up early when cases are less and therefore demand is low, she advised for procurement in a staggered manner so that the logistics of production are not overwhelmed.
Ms. Vandana Gurnani, Additional Secretary and Mission Director (NHM), Dr. Manohar Agnani, Additional Secretary (Health), Shri Vikash Sheel, Additional Secretary (Health), Shri Vishal Chauhan, Joint Secretary (Health) were present along with Principal Secretary (Health), Additional Chief Secretary (Health), Mission Director (NHM) and State Surveillance Officer of all theStates/UTs.