Explained: Here is how Mumbai will vaccinate its frontline staff

The BMC has fed data of 1.26 lakh health workers on Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work (Co-WIN) software. Civic officials expect vaccine stock to reach Mumbai after a fortnight.

Mumbai, which became a Covid-19 hotspot in March itself, is all set to begin immunisation of 1.26 lakh health workers from the day vaccine stock arrives. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has 1,367 trained vaccinators at hand and plans to immunise 8,000-12,000 people in a day across eight centres if there are enough doses supplied to the metropolis.

How will beneficiaries be contacted?

The BMC has fed data of 1.26 lakh health workers on Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work (Co-WIN) software. Civic officials expect vaccine stock to reach Mumbai after a fortnight. When it comes, the automated system of Co-WIN will select health care workers registered sequentially and send them an SMS giving details of date, shift and centre where they are supposed to be vaccinated. BMC has decided to have two shifts, from 8 am to 2 pm, and second from 2 pm till 8 pm. Mumbai has eight centres finalised for phase 1 of vaccination– DR RN Cooper hospital (which is the model vaccine centre), KEM, Sion, Nair, Rajawadi, VN Desai, Kandivali Shatabdi and Bandra Bhabha hospital. More jumbo centres and smaller hospitals may be added later.

Vaccine centres in medical colleges will each have 10 teams of vaccinator and aim to immunise 2,000 people a day, while smaller peripheral hospitals will have at least five vaccinators and target up to 1,000 beneficiaries. With 8,000-12,000 immunisations per day, BMC aims to finish giving first dose in 15-20 days, provided they have steady supply of vaccine vials.

Health workers, including doctors, nurses, auxiliary nurse midwives, paramedics, who miss the scheduled appointment of vaccination will be put at the bottom of list and again contacted at the end.

What if there is hesitancy in coming for first or second dose?

This is the main concern for Public Health Department. They plan to follow ‘IEC’ (information, education, communication) to dispel myths, fears and rumours regarding the available vaccine. The central government has issued a guideline on ‘Covid-19 Vaccine Communication Strategy’ and advised use of videos, counselling techniques to encourage immunisation. Videos of doctors explaining vaccination process will be circulated. “Say if we find several health workers from one hospital are refusing to come, we will reach out to head of the hospital and arrange for a collective counselling session,” a senior health officer said.

The state government and BMC has however been firm on its stand to not force immunisation upon people and use only counselling as a method to encourage good turn out.

How will crowds at vaccine centres will be handled?

Beneficiaries will be asked to visit in either the 8 am to 2 pm slot or 2 pm to 8 pm shift. Each will be assigned a vaccinator. Each centre will have a team of five officials, a security guard, a registration officer, one person who will vaccinate called vaccinator, one to observe any adverse events and one officer to monitor the overall centre.

Discussions are still on but in case of overcrowding BMC is mulling to have a token system at entrance. Executive health officer Dr Mangala Gomare said an electronic display will show which token number is next and the beneficiaries can enter on their turn. “We will also have doctors deputed to check vaccination booths as the immunisation takes place,” Gomare said.

Where will vaccine be stored?

Mumbai has 5,000 square feet space in Kanjurmarg BMC owned building to store 1.2 crore doses. The facility will have two walk-in coolers, 40 cubic metres each, which can store 50-60 lakh doses each. This facility is still under construction. Until Kanjurmarg facility is ready, BMC will make its F South office in Parel the main storage facility. From there vials will be transferred to vaccine centres. Each centre can store 50,000 doses in one ice line refrigerator. In addition, Gomare said a walk-in freezer of 20 cubic metre, has been proposed for purchase. There are 300 ice boxes available to transport vaccine from one point to another.

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Future steps

After 1.26 lakh health workers are immunised, the next phase will include vaccination of frontline workers like the police and defence personnel, municipal staff, BEST drivers and conductors. For the second phase, BMC will rope in jumbo facilities and other peripheral hospitals as vaccination centres. “We are also continuously training our staff in vaccination. The number of vaccinators will keep on increasing,” said Dr Sheela Jagtap, immunisation incharge in Mumbai.

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