'Will take 6-7 months for vaccine to reach public'

PUNE: Even as the inoculation drive against COVID-19 is set to start in two days, a Maharashtra government official said on Thursday that it will take six to seven months for the vaccine to become available for those who are not in the high-risk category.

Healthcare workers, frontline staff and people suffering from co-morbidities — all these considered to be at high risk of contracting the infection — will be administered the jab in the first three phases of the drive, starting January 16.

Speaking to PTI about preparations, state immunization officer Dr Dilip Patil said, “All workshops and training for the drive have been completed. We are all set to conduct error-free vaccination drive.”

Around 7.86 lakh healthcare workers from government, private and Armed Forces medical facilities have registered for vaccination and so far no one has backed out, he said.

Asked when the vaccine will be available for the general public, Patil said it would take at least six to seven months.

“Considering the time it would take to administer the vaccine to healthcare workers, frontline staff and people with co-morbid conditions, it would take a minimum of six to seven months for the vaccine to reach the general public,” he said.

After healthcare workers, the vaccine will be administered to frontline staff such as police, home guards and others in the second phase.

“Respective departments have been asked to register their employees (beneficiaries) on CO-WIN application. So far 2.92 lakh frontline workers have registered for the second phase,” he said.

Maharashtra has received 9.63 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and 20,000 doses of Covaxin which is developed by Bharat Biotech, he said.

“The vaccination drive has been planned at 285 places in the state on the first day, and by Friday, consignments of the vaccine will reach all over the state,” he said.

Oxygen cylinders have been kept ready and medical staff will be on standby to tackle any adverse reaction to the vaccine, the official said.

Beneficiaries cannot choose between the two vaccines, he said.

“To take the vaccine is optional, but beneficiaries will have no option to choose between the two vaccines. Whichever vaccine is available at the centre, will be administered,” Dr Patil said.

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