In a massive capacity building exercise ahead of the Covid-19 vaccination roll out for the people above 50 years, the central government will be increasing the number of inoculation sites to 75,000 in a couple of weeks from now, said Dr N.K Arora, Head, Operations Research Group, National COVID-19 Task Force.
Arora, who was speaking at a virtual event on Wednesday said that the move is aligned with the government’s intent to vaccinate over 50 lakh people everyday.
“In the next couple of weeks, the number of immunisation centres will be increased from 50,000 to 75,000 and we would be able to vaccinate about 5 to 7 million people everyday,” he said.
Arora added that the country has the capacity to inoculate 1 crore people everyday.
“We have the capacity to vaccinate 10 million individuals per day,” he said.
More than 36,000 vaccination sites would be needed to reach the figure as shared by Arora.
Currently, the government is running the nationwide Covid immunisation programme through 38,445 vaccination centres across 28 states and eight Union Territories (UTs), which are being expanded regularly, as per the data extracted from the CoWIN application.
The addition to the existing vaccination sites is expected to accelerate the pace of immunization as well as complete the immunization of priority groups in a timely manner set by the government.
Earlier, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said that the government expects to immunize the 30 crore of people categorised under different priority groups, by July this year.
Suneela Garg, Public Health Expert and Advisor to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), told IANS that in addition to the upscale of vaccination centres, the optimum use of the sites is also important to complete the inoculation of all the priority groups.
“We have to vaccinate more number of beneficiaries at every site. We have the capacity to conduct upto 200 vaccinations in each session. The threshold of 100 vaccinations must be removed and the government should encourage the vaccination centres to inoculate a greater number of people since we are now looking to immunize 27 crore more of them in vaccination drive,” she said.
Garg suggested that the government should attach at least three vaccination centres to each cold chain point for mass coverage. India has currently around 29,000 cold chain points.
The suggestion indicates an increase of the vaccination centres to 90,000.
“It will automatically improve the daily average of vaccination which has stayed below 3 lakh so far,” she added.
India has immunised over 66 lakh people so far with an average of around 2.75 lakh vaccinations per day. The drive started on January 16 to vaccinate around 1 crore healthcare workers who are at the top of the government’s priority. It was extended to around 2 crore frontline workers since February 6.
The government plans to start inoculation of the third priority group, which is 27 crore vulnerable people who are in the 50 plus years age group, from March.
The government has also directed the states and UTs to conclude the first dose administration of all healthcare workers by February 24 while the deadline for the frontline workers is March 6.