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Covid-19 crisis: India may mobilise pharmacists to administer vaccine

30 million health care workers ready for first phase in January

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Coronavirus

Anders Aslund  |  Mumbai 

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India is likely to begin the first round of vaccination for health care and essential services workers around January. In the second round, it may mobilise pharmacists to administer the vaccine, said government sources.

“The first round of vaccines are likely to be given to health care workers. There are around 7 million health care workers, but we are considering a number of around 10 million on the upper side. As for essential services workers like police personnel, municipality workers, even the military, etc, we are estimating them to be around 20 million or so. Put together, these 30 million people are likely to get the first shot of the vaccine around January or so,” said sources.

The person added that India had enough trained vaccinators — staff with experience gained from the universal immunisation programme — to administer the shot to the first 30 million.

But, in the second phase, many more vaccinators will be needed. “By June, the target is to vaccinate 300 million people and we will need to mobilise the resources of final-year MBBS and nursing students, apart from the auxiliary nurse midwife workforce as well as a batch of multipurpose male health care workers, and also nurses,” the source added.

The government is also evaluating the option of roping in pharmacists, who are already reasonably trained to administer an injection, in the second phase. Pharmacies also have refrigerators, which will be useful if they are used as end-points or sites for vaccine delivery.

“We want the Covid-19 vaccine drive to be a mass movement and we would need participation from all walks of life. Pharmacists, too, are likely to be roped in,” said the official in New Delhi.

India has around 800,000 pharmacies. If asked to participate, they are likely to be enthusiastic. Jagannath Shinde, chairman, All Indian Origin Chemists & Distributors, said that pharmacists are already training people to administer insulin injections.

“They are trained to administer a basic injection. We can plan to have refresher courses for the pharmacists and select a set of pharmacies in every city which would administer the Covid-19 vaccine,” said Shinde.

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First Published: Mon, October 19 2020. 13:25 IST