As vaccine developers like Pfizer, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Bharat Biotech and others race to the finishing line, Mumbai’s civic body, the BMC, has drawn up a blueprint to store, transport and distribute vaccines as soon as it’s ready.
Four hospitals in the city, including Sion hospital, Nair hospital, KEM hospital and Cooper hospital have been identified for storage of vaccines. The cold storages available in each of these four hospitals/medical colleges will be able to store up to 1.5 lakh vaccines, said BMC Additional Municipal Commissioner, Suresh Kakani.
“Subsequently, if we need to upgrade because we may need to store more vaccines, we are developing one more facility in Kanjurmarg. There, we would be able to store 15 lakh vaccines at a time.”Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner, BMC
The massive vaccine storage facility at Kanjurmarg will consist of two different temperature zones on the same floor. On one zone, the temperature will be maintained between 2 degree celsius to 8 degree celsius. A machine will be installed in the other zone to help maintain temperatures between minus -25 degree celsius and minus -15 degree celsius.
“It is a five-storey building. As of now, we have bought three floors of the building and out of that we will be converting one floor into cold storage. In case we need different temperatures as per the requirement of the vaccine, or more vaccines are to be stored, then we would convert the second floor in a phased manner,” said Suresh Kakani.
He also added that the civic body is aiming to ready the cold storage facility by December 2020.
Transportation of Vaccines
The BMC official confirmed that the civic body has 300 cold storage boxes available that would maintain temperature from 2 degree to 8 degree celsius. Suresh Kakani added, “I feel that it would be more than enough but in case we need more than that, we will procure it or the government has also assured us that ‘yes, these boxes will be provided to you free of cost’. So, that should not be a problem.”
Provisions are also being made at the Mumbai airport to provide cold chain facility right from the landing point of the vaccine up till the standard cold storage in the city.
To avoid the need for transportation once the distribution procedure begins, the municipal corporation will be using the very same four hospitals where the vials will be stored, as vaccination centres.
Adequate Manpower to Oversee Vaccination
According to the government’s directive, healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19 positive patients will be the first ones to receive vaccination. The BMC database shows that the number of healthcare workers eligible in the first round of vaccination in the city to be 1.25 lakh.
Manpower of approximately 2,000 personnel would be required for the entire process, says Mr Kakani.
“Suppose, if we open 500 vaccination centres across Mumbai, in that case we may need 2,000 manpower and we have also identified the manpower because each group should have two nurses, one healthcare worker and another support person in case something goes wrong somewhere. Five such teams would be supervised by an MBBS doctor.”Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner, BMC
The five teams operating under one doctor would be placed in the same building or two different buildings close to each other for convenience.
The civic body, which already has an app to access data on individuals eligible for vaccination, is also waiting for an application to be developed by the Centre. Once that’s done, the entire list comprising public and private healthcare workers eligible for vaccination will be transferred to a single platform to avoid duplication.
The process of first round of vaccinations of healthcare workers is expected to be carried out within a week after the vaccine arrives.
According to the government’s directive, the second round of vaccination is likely to be conducted on the police, conservancy workers, followed by senior citizens and individuals with co-morbidities. The BMC, however, has allegedly not received any clear directive on this yet.
“Now, if we talk about mass vaccination, we have identified two centres per ward. We have 24 wards, so we have identified two centres per ward and in case we need more facilities for vaccination, then we have also chosen some public facilities, instead of going for private ones. We have chosen public facilities like schools, community halls or gymnasiums. Vaccines can be given near the doorstep to the target group. As of now, the target group has to be finalised,” added Suresh Kakani.
As of 7 December 2020, Mumbai has 12,065 active COVID-19 cases taking the total number of positive patients in the city to 2,86,590. The recovery rate in Mumbai stands at 92 percent.
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