New Delhi: The vaccination exercise as a tool to protect the most vulnerable population groups in the country from COVID-19 continues to be regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level. A graded, pre-emptive and pro-active approach has allowed for the exercise to be modified to suit present circumstances in wide consultation with all stakeholders.
With launch of phase II of the National Vaccination Drive on 1st March 2021, facility for only online registration and appointment of citizens aged 45 years or more was offered on CoWIN digital platform. The feature for on-site registration and appointment was introduced later for these priority groups. Subsequently, the coverage of vaccination was expanded to people in the age group of 18 to 44 years on 1st May 2021 with implementation of the Liberalised Pricing & Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy. The facility of only online appointment mode initially to people in the age group of 18 to 44 years helped to avoid overcrowding at the vaccinationcentres.
In this context, based on the various representations given by the States and inputs received by Union Health Ministry for the vaccination of 18-44 years age group, the Union Government has now decided to provide facility of on-site registration/facilitated cohort registration on CoWINdigital platform for 18-44 years age group considering the following points:
(i) In case of sessions exclusively organized with online slots, towards the end of the day, some doses may still be left unutilized in case the online appointee beneficiaries do not turn up on day of vaccination due to any reason. In such cases, on-site registration of a few beneficiaries may be necessary to minimizethe vaccine wastage.
(ii) Even thoughCoWIN provides for features such as registration of up to 4 beneficiaries with a mobile number, facilitated registration and appointments through applications, such as ArogyaSetu and Umang and through the Common Service Centres etc., people requiring facilitated cohort’s facility and those without access to internet or smart phones or mobile phones may still have limited access for vaccination.
Therefore, the feature for on-site registration and appointment is now being enabled for 18-44 years age group on CoWIN.
However, this feature is being enabled only for Government COVID Vaccination Centers (CVCs), at the present moment in time.
This feature will not be available for Private CVCs, presently and the Private CVCs will have to publish their vaccination schedules exclusively with slots for online appointments.
This feature will be used only upon decision of the respective State/UT Government to do so. State/UT must decide on opening of on-site registrations/facilitated cohorts’ registration and appointments for 18-44 years age group based on the local contextjust as an additional measure to minimize vaccine wastage and for facilitating vaccination of eligible beneficiaries in the age group 18-44 years.
The Union Health Ministry has advised the States and UTs to issue clear instructionsto all District Immunization Officers to strictly adhere to decision of respective State/UT Government regarding the extent and manner of using the on-site registration and appointment feature for 18 to 44 years age group.
Fully reserved sessions can also be organized for providing vaccination services to the beneficiaries belonging to facilitated cohorts. Wherever such fully reserved sessions are organized, all efforts must also be made to mobilize such beneficiaries in sufficient numbers.
Union Health Ministry has further advised States/UTs that abundant caution should be exercised and extreme due care should be taken while opening up of on-site registration and appointment for 18-44 years age group, in order to avoid overcrowding at vaccination centres.