First consignment of Covid vaccines land in Hyderabad amid prayers, hopes

Hyderabad, Jan 12 (IANS) The much-awaited moment finally arrived on Tuesday as the first consignment of Covid-19 vaccine for Telangana reached Hyderabad amid prayers and hopes of an early end to the pandemic.

Priests of various religious faiths offered prayers as the state received 3.64 lakh doses of Oxford-Astrazeneca’s Covishield vaccine.

After arrival at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, the consignment was shifted to State Vaccine Centre at Koti, where the vials were kept in the storage under the prescribed temperature.

Divine blessings for the success of vaccination were sought as Hindu, Muslim and Christian priests offered prayers when the doses were received by top officials and shifted to the cold storage.

Director Public Health G. Srinivas Rao said both Covishield and Covaxin will be administered to health workers. In addition to 3.64 lakh doses of Covishield received from Serum Institute of India, Pune, the state also received 20,000 doses of Covaxin, developed and manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.

“This is a historic day for mankind as a vaccine is ready in a record time of 10 months,” said Rao while thanking researchers and scientists who worked on developing the vaccines.

The official said they were also proud to receive Covaxin made on Telangana soil. Both the vaccines will be administered to health workers from January 16, the day when the vaccine rollout is scheduled to start across the country.

Thes vials will be transported to various Regional Vaccine Centres and from there will be shipped to cold chain points. In all, 866 cold chain points have been arranged for transport of the vaccine.

On the first day, 13,900 doses will be administered at 139 sites. The vaccination will be conducted at all 1,213 centres across the state from January 18.

Earlier, the first consignment of Covishield vaccines arrived at the Cargo terminal of RGIA by the Spicejet Freighter, SG7466 at 11:30 a.m. from Pune. The consignment was handled as per the special protocol ensuring cold-chain integrity.

A dedicated Vaccine Task Force that has been formed, with a nodal person, to ensure a seamless and high priority movement of Covid 19 vaccines handled the shipment at the airport.

The Vaccine consignment consisting of 31 boxes were offloaded from the aircraft parked in the adjoining dedicated cargo apron and swiftly taken to the vaccine storage and handling areas in the GHAC Terminal. The Task Force ensured the quick movement of the vaccine through the domestic inbound section to the reefer truck bound for consignee (State government).

Out of 41 mini-hubs planned across the country by the Government of India, Hyderabad has been notified as one of the designated distribution points for South India.

“GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo (GHAC) has a major role cut out in the entire value chain of vaccine shipments and is well equipped with the necessary infrastructure to handle hundreds of tonnes of vaccine cargo per day. The terminal offers one of India’s largest fleet of the modern temp-controlled Cool Containers viz. Cool Dolly, Envirotainer, VaQtec, etc,” said Pradeep Panicker, CEO, GMR Hyderabad International Airport.

A committee led by Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, will oversee the vaccination at state level. Task force committees have been set up at the district and zonal levels.

Somesh Kumar on Tuesday held a teleconference with all district collectors to review the preparations for launch of Covid vaccination programme.

He sensitised the Collectors about the importance of the programme which in the first phase is going to cover all healthcare workers from government as well as private facilities.

Somesh Kumar directed the collectors to ensure that necessary arrangements were made at the identified launch sites in their districts as per operational guidelines including measures for dealing with any cases of adverse effect following immunisation.

He asked collectors to appoint special officers for each launch site who would be responsible for overseeing the arrangements there. Collectors were advised to keep reserve vaccinators at each site. They were asked to facilitate presence of pre-identified beneficiaries through network of district officials.

Considering the importance of the programme, the Chief Secretary advised the Collectors to seek participation of public representatives at all levels. He further advised them to schedule a smaller number of beneficiaries on the first day and thereafter ramp up the numbers, taking into account the experience.

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