Coronavirus vaccine wastage: Misguided myth

India has given around 24.6 vaccine doses so far (File)

New Delhi:

The government on Friday said it is “actively making efforts to prevent wastage of COVID-19 vaccines” and that it is helping states and union territories to “use the doses effectively to fight the pandemic”. “Guiding” the states.

It said “media reports that the health ministry’s insistence on keeping vaccine wastage below one per cent is unrealistic and undesirable”.

The statement came a day after a report said that Jharkhand had wasted 33.95 per cent of the doses in May. The report said that in Chhattisgarh 15.79 per cent and in Madhya Pradesh about seven per cent wasted.

A day later, the Hemant Soren government in Jharkhand hit back, calling the central government figures “outdated” and insisting that its wastage rate was just 1.5 per cent.

Vaccine waste has become a major theme as governments scramble to balance a drastic dose reduction and the need to vaccinate as many people as possible as soon as possible to overcome the third wave.

Last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed officials to take steps to tackle vaccine waste, as the government works to ramp up production and speed up procurement.

The central government, which this month withdrew control of the vaccination campaign, has warned states that the high wastage rate could negatively affect dose allocation.

Read the full statement of the central government here:

Debunking vaccination myths

The Government of India is actively trying to prevent wastage of COVID-19 vaccines and is guiding the States and Union Territories to use the dosage effectively to fight the pandemic.

Some media reports said that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s insistence on keeping vaccine wastage below 1% is unrealistic and undesirable.

It is submitted that the COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented event in global health over the past century, resulting in a change in the way the world interacts and behaves.

Vaccination against COVID-19 is important to protect people from COVID-19 infection and the associated mortality and morbidity. Equal access to safe and effective vaccines is the key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccine development takes a lot of time and the demand for these vaccines exceeds the supply many times.

Thus, it is important to monitor and ensure that this valuable tool is used optimally and judiciously to tackle the pandemic. The COVID-19 vaccine is an essential public health item with global shortages.

Therefore, the wastage of vaccine should be reduced and kept at minimum level which will further help in immunization of many people. In fact, the Hon’ble Prime Minister has also from time to time emphasized on ensuring minimum vaccine wastage, to ensure that the vaccine reaches as many people as possible.

Any reduction in wastage means vaccinating more people and strengthening the fight against COVID-19. Each dose saved means vaccinating one more person.

India is using the COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) with inbuilt eVIN (Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network) system, a digital platform that not only registers beneficiaries but also tracks vaccines. and provides the facility of real time monitoring of storage. Temperatures at 29,000 cold chain points at national, state and district levels.

The COVID-19 vaccines currently in use do not have an ‘open vial policy’, that is, the vial has to be used within a stipulated time after opening. Vaccinators are advised to mark the date and time of opening of each vial and that all opened vaccine vials need to be used/discarded within 4 hours of opening.

Many states have organized COVID-19 vaccination in such a way, that not only is there no wastage, but they are also able to extract more dose from the vial and thus show a negative wastage.

Therefore, expecting vaccine wastage to be 1% or less is not unreasonable at all. It is reasonable, desirable and achievable.

Further, all States/UTs have also been advised that each immunization session is expected to cater to at least 100 beneficiaries, however, in case of remote and sparsely populated areas, the States may have fewer beneficiaries. can hold a session. Making sure there is no vaccine wastage. A session can be planned only when enough beneficiaries are available.

Post-vaccination observation time is used to guide beneficiaries on COVID appropriate behaviour, any potential post-vaccination adverse events (AEFIs), and where they may be reached in case of an adverse event.

Under any immunization programme, proper micro-planning is essential to ensure that we not only make optimum use of the available resources but also vaccinate as many beneficiaries as possible to improve coverage. The States/UTs are being regularly guided on this.

Additionally, there is a regular review of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign at all levels, with a focus on identifying areas where such wastage is high, to include analysis of vaccine wastage. prompt corrective measures can be taken.

The concerned officials and the managers of the COVID-19 Vaccination Center (CVC) have also been directed to plan the vaccination session efficiently so that the wastage rate of the vaccine is kept to a minimum.

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