Speaking exclusively with Republic TV on Saturday, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sandhu revealed that 1.5 lakh frontline workers will be administered the COVID-19 vaccine on priority. Weighing in on the novel coronavirus vaccination dry run in the state, he mentioned that the Union Health Secretary had hinted that the vaccine shall become available before January 10. On Friday, the Subject Expert Committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation recommended the Serum Institute of India's Covishield for emergency use approval.
However, the nod of the Drug Controller General of India is awaited. According to Sandhu, the cold chain is ready at 579 points in Punjab where the vaccine will be administered. On this occasion, he also disclosed that the medical staff and police personnel will be the first in line to receive the vaccine.
Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sandhu remarked, "Two dry runs took place on (December) 28th and 29th. Today is the third and tomorrow will be the 4th. We have prepared the cold chain. The Health Ministry Secretary held a conference saying that we will get the vaccine before 10th. Thereafter, we will distribute the vaccine as per the category."
"Our first priority is the frontline warriors whether it is the medical staff, police personnel, or the local administration. Those who meet people one-to-one will be prioritised. Thereafter, people above the age of 70, persons having comorbidities, diabetes, blood pressure, kidney problem and cancer (will be administered the vaccine). We will give it to other categories later so that the entire Punjab can be covered," he added.
On December 28 and 29, the Punjab government successfully completed the dry run of the COVID-19 vaccination process in 12 sites of the Ludhiana and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar districts. Under the aegis of this initiative, a team of supervisors was appointed to ensure the smooth run of all activities as per the SOP. The beneficiaries received an SMS informing them of the date, place, and time of vaccination.
The United Nations Development Programme and the World Health Organization supported this activity in the state. The current dry run extending into Sunday is being conducted at Government Medical College, Sadhbhavna Hospital, and the Community Health Centre in Shatrana. Currently, there are 3517 active COVID-19 cases in Punjab while 1,57,904 patients have been discharged and 5349 fatalities have been reported.