Today when the world is suffering from Covid -19 pandemic. One of the major concerns is Vaccine however there are larger questions which arise that are when is the Vaccine going to come? How effective is the vaccine going to be? There are many Vaccines which are at Phase –ii and Phase iii of their trial. There is another crucial aspect which has of late been on discussion which is on Distribution method? I.e How is the Vaccine going to be distributed? Let us understand what the Indian government is planning. Let us understand the various areas and aspects which one must know in regards with vaccine distribution.
Why is a Vaccine Distribution Strategy Essential ?
First things we need to understand is that just by a vaccine being available is not merely enough in order to ensure the vaccine availability to everyone hence Vaccine distribution strategy is a crucial aspect. We need to consider the reasons why a vaccine distribution plan is essential to first ensure right category of people receive it at priority basis. Secondly to prevent mass hoarding of Vaccine i.e if there is no vaccine distribution plan there is a high chance people might start stockpiling vaccine which would prevent vaccine from reaching the right people at priority basis. Thirdly Vaccine distribution plan is essential in order to prevent any form of malpractices in the name of vaccine distribution. A Vaccine distribution plan is of utmost importance in a country like India it is merely because of population of India.
Authorities in charge for formulating Vaccine distribution Strategy in India
Let us understand the who is formulating the vaccine distribution plan in India. The Government of India had set up National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid -19 and High level panel is planning the methods for roll out for Vaccine. The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 is led by Dr VK Paul a member at NITI AAYOG. The High level panel consists of AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria along with representatives of ministry of External Affairs, Biotechnology, Information and Technology, India’s top research institutes and ICMR (Indian Council for medical research).
What is the Vaccine distribution Strategy Government of India is working on? Vaccine distribution strategy is a crucial aspect the government of India has put up an interim approach which they would be considering for vaccine distribution. Basically government of India has emphasized on phase one of vaccine distribution which would mainly involve consists of two categories of people. First Category would essentially consist of people who are performing high risk jobs. Who would be categorized as people who are at high risk jobs? Health care workers, including central and state police forces, home guards, armed forces, municipal workers and Asha workers and community workers – like cleaners, teachers and drivers would be categorized as high risk jobs. The second Category of people would consist of People above 50 years alongside people below 50 years with co morbid conditions.
Various aspects of Vaccine Distribution Strategy
However there are a lot of factors which need to be taken into account while vaccine distribution strategy is formulated and implementation. Would the rural area of the country require a separate strategy? There would be a huge amount of resources required for vaccination process how could we ensure mobilization of resources? Another area which would require focus is whether the vaccine would be distributed among states based on the population of a state or city or based on the active cases at that point of time? Let’s take for example as of 2011 census population of Mumbai was 1.84 crores now it would have been higher in number. The question here lies is to what extent of decentralization would be implemented in a highly populated city like Mumbai and Delhi.
Another interesting area of concern which lies is its affordability of the vaccine. As per World Bank statistics 22. 5 percent of population is below poverty line.  The bigger question arises would this sector of population be able to afford vaccine. Further lies the crucial aspect on the need for a checks and balances mechanism in vaccine distribution in order to ensure that there is no malpractices which take place. There even needs to be a monitoring mechanism in the plan to ensure that there is no change in the composition of the vaccine.
Role of Citizens in the current situation
We as the citizens of this country need to understand that framing a vaccine distribution strategy is not an easy task. It is very difficult especially for a country with the population of over 134 crore people. We need to understand National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration and high level panel has one of the most equipped and specialized members of the medical fraternity on board. The process of framing vaccine distribution strategy would take time since there would be lot of deliberations happening in regards with the same. The Health ministry would also be taking in suggestions and recommendations by the CDC and WHO in regards with vaccine distribution strategy. We need to believe in the government that they would ensure the most suitable vaccine distribution strategy is in place for our country.
Let us the most interesting question Is there a need to vaccinate the entire population? There have been different opinions in regards with this. Some medical experts believe on the concept of herd immunity according to which entire population does not need to be vaccinated. What is herd immunity? According to John Hopkins bloombers school of public health When majority of the population is immune to an infectious disease, this provides indirect protection—or herd immunity (also called herd protection)—to those who are not immune to the disease.
Herd immunity can be also achieved through vaccine let’s say if 60 to 80 percent of the population is vaccinated by default they achieve herd immunity. Would this theory work? An answer to this question would come with time. A pertinent area of concern which government would to have focus on is creating awareness on vaccination illiteracy rate in india as of census 2011 is 26% which is a considerable number hence to create awareness of vaccination is also crucial alongside vaccine distribution strategy.  Once government releases the final vaccine distribution strategy that is when there would be more clarity. In these tuff times we as citizens can support the government by cooperating with them. In the year 2010 WHO department of immunization, vaccines and biologicals had released a strategic plan for vaccination which could play a crucial precedence in today’s time.
Vignesh -Writer Bharat Bhagya Vidhata
- (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2020, from https://povertydata.worldbank.org/poverty/country/IND/about.
- Rogers, L., & JH Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2020, October 14). What is Herd Immunity and How Can We Achieve It With COVID-19? Retrieved November 12, 2020, from https://www.jhsph.edu/covid-19/articles/achieving-herd-immunity-with-covid19.html.