With various prospective COVID-19 vaccines showing encouraging outcomes, the government’s next step is to develop a strategy for widespread vaccination of its people. The government has identified two primary criteria for selecting the initial people to receive the vaccine as essentiality and vulnerability. However, the following issues must be addressed before the widespread vaccination campaign begins:
- India is a very diverse country in terms of demographics, and no two locations enjoy the same climatic conditions. Temperature and heat might cause issues in the long run during vaccine dispersion and delivery. Certain vaccinations require optimal temperature storage (as low as -70 degrees celsius) in a cool environment, however most facilities in India are believed to be designed to work at a maximum of -40 degrees Celsius. Inadequate operational facilities and storage conditions can impair a vaccine’s feasibility and efficacy rates.
- There are further strategic concerns that could jeopardise delivery. Certain vaccines, such as those manufactured with mRNA technology, must be stored at extremely low temperatures, which are not feasible in many regions.
- Another hurdle will be administering the vaccination through injection, which can now be done by authorised individuals such as doctors, nurses, and auxiliary nurse midwives. Their numbers are insufficient in many sections of the country as a result of our past neglect. Those who are available will also be offering additional health care services, such as care for Covid-19-infected individuals. Thus, central and state programme managers must examine several legitimate concerns, such as who will administer the injection and monitor for adverse effects. Will students of medicine, dentistry, and nursing be rushed into duty following brief training? Are we able to train additional sets of vacciners? Will existing regulatory constraints be lifted to allow for these new vaccine groups?
- Unlike in Western countries, mass immunisation campaigns targeting the adult population are not well-known in India at the moment.
- While authorities have determined the necessity for a priority order covering healthcare professionals, essential employees, and high-risk individuals, we must ensure that there is sufficient awareness and availability to meet the vulnerable sector’s needs.
- One technique to improve vaccination distribution is to conduct tests to detect the existence of antibodies and then prioritise an order for delivery. However, a significant proportion of tests in India, particularly those that measure antigen levels, have been known to produce misleading results. This is an issue that must be addressed.
Before the ambitious process of vaccination can begin, these obstacles must be properly addressed through increased training and utilisation of medical students, as well as infrastructure impediments.