NCOC announces vaccination centres at public healthcare centres

ISLAMABAD: After the federal cabinet authorised the procurement of coronavirus vaccines from a Chinese company, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was informed on Thursday that vaccine administration cells would be established in all district and tehsil headquarter (THQ) hospitals, as well as regional health centres, to ensure that immunisation was conducted at the grassroots level.

A cabinet committee on Thursday authorised the procurement of over one million coronavirus drops to cover frontline healthcare workers. Separately, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government hopes to deploy it within the first quarter of 2021.

“The Cabinet Committee has decided to initially purchase 1.2 million doses of the vaccine from the Chinese company Sinopharm, which will be provided free of cost to frontline workers in the first quarter of 2021,” Chaudhry tweeted. “If the private sector wants to import any other internationally-approved vaccine, it can do so,” he added.

In November, the government approved $250 million in funding to buy the vaccines, initially to cover the most vulnerable 5 percent of the population. The initial phase of vaccinations would focus on providing free shots for frontline health workers and people above the age of 65 years.

The NCOC session, organised to discuss the national vaccination drive, was further informed that master trainers would be imparted knowledge about the inoculation process who in turn would train healthcare workers on administering the vaccine. The training sessions for master trainers will be held in all provinces and Islamabad.

NCOC Director General Operations and Planning Major General Asif Mehmood Goraya assured the participants of the meeting that all-out efforts would be made to facilitate federating units in carrying out smooth vaccination.

In the first phase, only frontline health workers would be inoculated, and the vaccine would be administered to people above the age of 65 in the second phase, as both the groups were at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.

During the third phase, health workers and individuals between the ages of 60 and 64 years will be vaccinated.

Moreover, the forum was told the NCOC, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Health Services, National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), and National Information Technology Board (NITB), had developed the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) — an online portal that would serve as the “brain” of the vaccination process.

The cabinet committee that took the decision to pre-book doses of the coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday had also elaborated on the NIMS, stating: “NIMS [will] ensure efficient supply chain management and administration of Covid-19 vaccine. The system will enable automated phase-wise registration of citizens for vaccine through SMS/ internet, based on CNIC numbers. Immunisation mechanism will be intimated to citizens shortly. NIMS will be made available by mid of January.”

Besides, NCOC National Coordinator Lt Gen Hamood Uz Zaman Khan briefed the session on national vaccine strategy, in line with decisions taken by the NCOC.

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