India will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world's largest inoculation programme with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers.
As part of preparations for the nationwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccine, the Health Ministry on Sunday held a video conference with officials from states and Union Territories to discuss feedback on the Co-WIN software and its operational use gathered from the vaccination dry runs.
The meeting was chaired by Ram Sewak Sharma, the chairman of Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management to combat COVID-19 and member of National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of COVID-19.
Giving an overall view of the CoWIN software and the principles that shall underpin the technology backup for the vaccination exercise, he said robust, dependable and agile technology shall form both the foundation and the back-up for the country's COVID-19 vaccination drive.
"The process should be citizen-centric and built on an approach that the vaccine shall be available anytime and anywhere," Sharma was quoted as saying in a statement.
He stressed on the need for flexibility without compromising on quality and reiterated that inclusivity, speed and scalability have been kept in mind while designing the digital platform with all its components being portable, synchronous without excessive and unnecessary dependencies.
Underscoring the importance of capturing the vaccination data in real time, Sharma said, "This is non-negotiable."
He also highlighted the caution one needs to exercise to ensure there was ''no proxy'' at all, while reiterating that the beneficiaries of the vaccination drive need to be uniquely and undeniably identified.
About the use of the Aadhaar platform, Sharma advised the states to urge the beneficiaries to seed their current mobile number with Aadhaar for registration and consequent communication through SMS.
It is extremely important to clearly identify a person who is getting vaccinated and keep a digital record on who gets vaccinated by whom, when and which one, Sharma stressed.
The meeting was attended by principal secretaries of states, National Health Mission Directors, state immunisation officers and senior officers of the Union Health Ministry.
India had recently granted emergency use authorisation to two vaccines, Oxford's Covishield being manufactured by Serum Institute in India and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. Both vaccines, the statement from the Health Ministry said, have established safety and immunogenicity.
After vaccinating healthcare and frontline workers, priority will be given to those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities, together numbering around 27 crore, a government statement said.