COVID-19 shot roll-out: Nurses, ANMs gear up for role as vaccinators

On January 16, the state plans to administer 35,000 doses. Eventually, daily numbers will dip in subsequent days.

OVER 1,500 nurses in Mumbai and more than 18,000 nurses and auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) across Maharashtra have received training to administer the Covid-19 vaccination. As the immunisation rolls out across India on January 16, they will play their part.

Shweta Rane (49), who has been an immunisation officer for the past two years, has vaccinated hundreds of children for measles, rubella, polio and BCG. Rane, however, is nervous about the Covid-19 vaccine even though it is the same intramuscular jab she has practised for years now.

“There is too much attention on this vaccine. People around me keep asking about data on efficacy. We have to be doubly careful, ensure there is adequate emergency care for every person vaccinated,” Rane says.

Rane works at the BMC-run Babasaheb Ambedkar Kandivali Shatabdi hospital, one of the nine vaccination centres in Mumbai. She will immunise 100 health workers in her eight-hour shift.

“In our centre, there was no dry run. We will directly start the immunisation on the day it rolls out,” she says, adding that she will be posted on vaccination duty for a month, which may get extended later.

Rane herself is registered for the shot, but her concerns go beyond. “On an average, each vaccinator is supposed to take three minutes to vaccinate a beneficiary. We have to work in a time-bound fashion,” she says.

Rajni Nirbhun (50), who has been in the nursing profession for 30 years, has her lines rehearsed: ‘Close your eyes, this will take only a minute… you have to come again after 28 days for second dose… if there is any adverse reaction please contact here immediately’.

“I have read up on this vaccine to counsel beneficiaries if needed. We have decided to allow beneficiaries to sit and relax for as long as they want if they get nervous before the shot,” she says.

The government has allocated Rs 148 for each beneficiary’s vaccination. “This amount will be spent for procuring masks during immunisation and to pay vaccinators,” said Dr Archana Patil from Directorate of Health Services, Maharashtra.

On January 16, the state plans to administer 35,000 doses. Eventually, daily numbers will dip in subsequent days. In rural and tribal areas, ANMs will handle the bulk of the immunisation. In Chandrapur, 500 staff nurses and ANMs have received training across 78 centres. For now, six of these will start functioning.

District immunisation officer Dr Sandip Gedam said they planned to vaccinate 800 health workers on the first day. “Through hospitals, we made enquiries and have already checked the availability of the first 800 health workers listed in the CoWIN software for the January 16 vaccination drive,” Gedam said.

Archana Doke, a nurse at the district general hospital in Osmanabad, says the switch from paediatrics to adult beneficiaries may require a different approach. “We could distract kids by smooth talk or by diverting their attention during vaccination. For adults, the only way to reduce their nervousness is by health education on the vaccine’s benefits,” she says.

Doke is a nurse since 2012 and has administered vaccines in the measles-rubella campaign. “I am equally excited to take my vaccine dose when my turn comes,” she says.

Each vaccine centre will have a team of five health officials — security guard, registration desk official, nurse or ANM as vaccinator, health worker to observe beneficiaries after vaccination, and an overall in-charge. Depending on the number of vaccine booths at a centre, between two to 15 vaccinators will be appointed. Urban centres will have more booths as compared to rural centres, where population tends to be sparse.

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