BMC plans dry run, token system for vaccination

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials were on Monday asked to remain prepared to roll out immunisation the day Covid-19 vaccine stock arrives in Mumbai. Of the eight vaccination centres in the city, one model centre at Dr RN Cooper hospital was ready on Monday, with the other seven said to be ready later this week. BMC plans on conducting a dry run — similar to the one held in four other districts last week — to avoid possible obstacles during the immunisation process.

With 1,367 trained vaccinators, BMC plans to immunise between 8,000 and 12,000 people per day across eight centres — if enough doses are supplied to Mumbai. In the first phase, 1.26 lakh healthcare workers (HCWs) will be immunised over a period of 15-20 days. At Dr RN Cooper, KEM, Sion and Nair hospital, 2,000 people will be vaccinated per day at 10 vaccination booths. At four other centres in Rajawadi, VN Desai, Kandivali Shatabdi and Bandra Bhabha hospital, five booths have been set up to immunise 1,000 people a day.

BMC has decided to come up with two shifts — 8 am to 2 pm and 2 pm to 8 pm — which is a deviation from the Centre’s guidelines of having a 9 am-5 pm shift in order to reach out to more beneficiaries.

“Each centre will have 10-20 vaccinators and each vaccinator will immunise 100 people a day,” said Dr Mangala Gomare, executive health officer at BMC, adding that there will also be doctors to monitor two booths each during immunisation.

BMC has fed the data of 1.26 lakh HCWs on the Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work (Co-WIN) software. An automated system will select those registered sequentially and send them an SMS providing the details of date, shift and centre where they are supposed to be vaccinated. Gomare said that only those registered and who have been sent an SMS will be allowed to enter the vaccination centre.

In the first phase, doctors, nurses, auxiliary nurse midwives and paramedics will be immunised. “The only criteria is that if they have had Covid-19, they should have recovered at least 14 days before the vaccination,” said Dr Rajusing Rathod of the civic health department.

While immunisation is not compulsory, the state government is preparing to counsel frontline workers who have shown hesitance with regard to being vaccinated. BMC plans on using videos featuring doctors who will explain the vaccination process to bust myths and the fear around vaccines. “If health workers from a hospital refuse to come, we will reach out to the head of the hospital and arrange for a collective counselling session,” Rathod said.

The civic body is also prepared for overcrowding at certain points during the day and a token system may be installed for crowd management. Officials said each person will be given a token and asked to wait for their turn. An electronic display will then display their token number and the beneficiary can proceed from the waiting area to the vaccination booth.

Gomare said a few issues will surface only once immunisation begins on the ground. “We plan to have a trial run in some centres, but since real vaccines will not be given, we may not know the kind of adverse events possible,” the executive health officer said.

Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said that as the vaccination rolls out, they will monitor the hiccups and devise solutions. In Mumbai, a 10-member task force from the police, education department, solid waste management, the United Nations Development Fund, public health department and medical colleges has been formed to manage the same.

The city’s major storage facility will be a space measuring 5,000 square feet in Kanjurmarg. Until the facility is ready, the first stock of vaccines will be stored in ward ‘F’ south health office in Parel and distributed to the eight vaccine centres. In addition to two walk-in coolers currently being installed, BMC has also proposed one walk-in freezer at the Kanjurmarg facility. The civic body has eight iced-lined refrigerators at the eight vaccine centres, with each having a capacity to store 50,000 vials.