LAHORE: The Punjab government has prepared multiple proposals to effectively dispense and administer the 70,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses it has received from the federal authorities to the healthcare professionals of the public and private institutions and diagnostic centres across the province.
The first consignment of the coronavirus vaccine had reached Lahore on Monday and was stored at the warehouse of the provincial health department at Raiwind.
The government has constituted separate high-powered committees at the provincial, district and institutions levels for the vaccine management, storage and safe administration to the target population in order to ensure effective supervision and surveillance of the entire process.
The process will be supervised at the top by the seven-member Apex Vaccination Management Committee, comprising the Punjab minister for law and parliamentary affairs, the health minister, chief secretary, the inspector general of police, secretaries of health departments, and chief executive officer of the Punjab Healthcare Commission.
Similarly, the Provincial Management Committee comprising director general health services Punjab, district health officer, and any co-opted member will be working at the middle level, while the District Vaccination Management Committees comprising the concerned deputy commissioners, chief executive officers of the district health authorities and district health officers concerned (preventive services), will be working at the third tier.
An official privy to the health department told Dawn on Tuesday that three proposals had been prepared at a meeting of senior government officers, including those from the health department to shortlist the ‘target population’ for the first phase of the vaccination .
According to the first proposal, the vaccine will be administered to 21,200 out of 35,274 (60 per cent) registered frontline healthcare workers (FLHCWs) of the 46 tertiary care hospitals of Punjab.
The vaccine will also be given to 41,900, out of 170,668 (25 per cent) members and staff of the rapid response teams and the public sector labs.
The remaining doses of the vaccine will be administered to 6,900 out of 13,803 registered staff members of the private hospitals and labs (50 per cent) of Punjab.
According to the second proposal, all 35,274 registered healthcare workers of 46 tertiary care hospitals of the province will be administered the Covid-19 vaccine.
The vaccine will also be administered to 27,826, out of 170,668 (16.5pc) registered workers of the rapid response teams and the public sector labs of Punjab, while the remaining doses will be given to 6,900, out of 13,803, (50pc) registered workers of the private hospitals and labs of the province.
As per the third proposal prepared in this regard, the authorities have shortlisted ‘high-burden’ districts of the province for the administration of the vaccine.
The priority districts include Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, Gujranwala and Gujrat.
In these districts, the government has decided to administer the jabs to 26,558 registered healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, supporting staff etc. 7,900 rapid response teams, 3,160 public laboratory staff in these seven districts, 12,675 staff members of the private sector hospitals and labs and 19,707 healthcare workers of the district and tehsil headquarters (DHQs & THQs) hospitals of the districts will be administered the vaccine.
The official further said that the Punjab government would take a final decision to implement one of the three proposals.
The official said that in the first phase, the vaccine would be administered to approximately 500,000 frontline essential healthcare workers of both the public and private health facilities in the province, besides three million people of 65 years and above age.
In the second phase, he said, the Punjab government has decided to provide vaccine cover to all the healthcare workers and 5.6 million people of 60 years and above age, constituting around 7pc of the total population of this age group in the province.
About the arrangements made for the vaccine’s preservation and maintaining cold supply chain, the official said the district-level storage facilities had been ensured through provision of minimum 3-4 Ice Lined Refrigerators (ILRs) in each district, while the provincial and district ‘cold rooms’ would serve as back-up support as per the vaccine’s requirement.
The assessments were also being made for any addition to the current cold chain system, if needed, he said, adding that presently the province had 2,385 ILRs in its 36 districts for the vaccine storage.
The health services director of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) has been appointed as the provincial focal person. An additional medical superintendent will act as focal person at the district level for the storage and administration of the vaccine to the target population.
“The projected wastage of the vaccine will be reduced to the lowest possible extent through training of the staff for transportation, handling/administering and storage, and ensuring the cold chain management,” the official concluded.
Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2021