Who Will Get the COVID Vaccine First in India? All You Should Know

Here’s all you need to know about who and which states will get the COVID-19 vaccine first in India.

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“Who will get the COVID-19 vaccine first in India?” a question that everybody has been asking. While countries like the UK and the US have kicked off their vaccination drives, Serum Institute of India's (SII) Adar Poonawalla has made 2021 look hopeful by saying that COVID vaccination in India is likely to begin by January 2021.

Good news! That's next month! BUT, does that mean you and I can get the vaccine within a month? Not necessarily!

The government has set up National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration, or NEGVAC, to come up with a plan to identify priority groups across states, and they will decide on the following aspects.

  • Which states get how many doses of the vaccine and when?
  • Who gets the vaccine first?

What Do Centre’s SOPs Say?

According to SOPs released by the Centre recently, in the first phase, the vaccine will be administered to:

  • People above 50 years of age
  • People above and below 50 years of age, suffering from co-morbidities
  • Healthcare and frontline workers

The population in the age group of 50 and above – identified at around 26.5 crore – will be prioritised in every state, since the coronavirus has proved fatal, largely for the people in this age group.

These people will be identified based on the voter list prepared during the recent Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

Which States Are Likely to Get the Vaccine First?

Naturally, states with more people in the 50+ age group will be prioritised, compared to others. According to the census projections and the National Family Health Survey 2019-20, cited by a Times of India report, the top five states with the highest population aged 50+ are:

  • Uttar Pradesh
  • Maharashtra
  • West Bengal
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Bihar

But there's a catch! So, states with a higher percentage of people above 50 years of age, with respect to the state's population, will be given priority. For example, Bihar's population is more than twice to that of Tamil Nadu, but the latter is likely to get more doses first. This is because it has more percentage of elderly citizens than Bihar has.

Another very important factor, which will be considered, is:

States With Higher % of People With Co-Morbidities

States with a higher percentage of people with co-morbidities, like diabetes, hypertension, etc., will be prioritised, since COVID-19 has proved fatal for people with these diseases. However, states with a higher percentage of people with chronic illnesses will also be given priority, regardless of whether the person suffering from any of those conditions is above 50 years of age or below.

So, for example, states like Maharashtra and Kerala will also be prioritised due to the higher number of recognised citizens who currently have diabetes.

Who Else Gets Prioritised?

Other than the elderly, the COVID-19 vaccine will also be given first to:

  • Healthcare workers (1 crore)
  • Frontline workers (2 crore)

Frontline workers include police, home guard, prison staff, municipal workers, civil defence, disaster management workers, etc.

Taking into consideration all these permutations and combinations, the Centre will decide which states get the vaccine first and how many doses of it. After all, these groups, in the first phase, are being vaccinated. The rest of the population will be given the COVID-19 vaccine whenever it is ready for public use, based on the spread of the disease and the availability of the vaccine.

How Does the Govt Plan to Ensure Last-Mile Delivery?

According to the SOPs released by the government for vaccine centres:

  • Co-WIN or COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network app and website will be used to enlist and track beneficiaries. At vaccination sites, only those who have enlisted themselves on the app, according to priority groups, will be permitted.
  • Photo-identity documents, including Voter ID, Aadhaar card, driving license, passport, and pension document, will be required for self-registration on the Co-WIN website.
  • There will be no provision for on the spot registrations.
  • Only 100 people per “session" at each site per day are likely to be vaccinated. The number of people per "session" might go up to 200, if logistics permit.
  • A vaccination site should have three rooms or areas, including a waiting room, vaccination room and an observation room.
  • The Centre has also advised states to assign one manufacturer per district to avoid mixing of different COVID-19 vaccines in the field.

While more clarity on vaccines from the Centre and all other concerned stakeholders is still awaited, the mere fact that preparations are underway and in full swing is a reason to hope for a better 2021!

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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