COVID-19 vaccination to start very soon across Jammu and Kashmir: Admin

Srinagar: The Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo, on Friday, chaired a meeting of Union Territory Level Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) regarding the COVID-19 vaccination program scheduled to begin shortly across Jammu and Kashmir.

The meeting was attended by Director Health Services Jammu, Principal Government Medical College Jammu, Drug Controller J&K, HODs Pediatrics, Medicine, Pharmacology, Microbiology, Pathology, Forensic, Anesthesia, and SPM of GMC Jammu while Director Health Services Kashmir, Principal Government Medical College (GMC) Kashmir, Head Of Departments Pediatrics, Medicine, Pharmacology, Microbiology, Pathology, Forensic, Anesthesia, and SPM of GMCs Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, Kathua, Rajouri, Doda, Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS), Soura and Jhelum Valley Medical College (JVC) Bemina attended the meeting through video conferencing.

The meeting was also attended by the representatives of J-K Police, National Health Mission, J-K, Health Officers of Jammu Municipal Corporation, and Srinagar Municipal Corporation among other concerned officers.

State Immunization Officer, Dr. Qazi Haroon, gave a detailed presentation about the development and the current stage of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country. He informed the meeting that the vaccine is expected to be introduced shortly for which two doses would be administered and the second dose to be administered after twenty-eight days of the first dose.

He informed that senior doctors from the majority of fields of medicine have been included in the Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) committee constituted for the COVID-19 vaccination program, adding that it was for the first time that the committee will have experts to monitor and study the adverse health events after inoculation. He informed that an AEFI is an untoward medical occurrence following immunization, which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Regarding vaccination of the population and target groups, he said that a phase-wise strategy will be incorporated wherein health care workers have been identified followed by frontline workers of seven lakh population, adding that it would be followed by a high-risk population consisting greater than fifty years of age and less than fifty years of age-associated with comorbid conditions. He said in Phase-I, a total of around 28 lakh (2.8 million) population have been identified for the COVID-19 vaccination across Jammu and Kashmir. He added that detailed instructions on infection prevention and control practices during vaccination and management of minor, severe, serious AEFI would be issued. He also informed the meeting that a detailed strategy has been chalked out and a requisition for deep freezers and other equipment has already been sent to the Government of India.

Speaking on the occasion, FC H&ME, Atal Dulloo asked the concerned heads of GMCs and SKIMS to lay more emphasis on vaccination site and vaccination session parts which include waiting rooms, vaccination rooms, and observation rooms. He directed the concerned heads to focus on the management side properly besides stressing on training sessions of the doctors and staff who would be involved in the vaccination program and added that employing such a mechanism would resolve the majority of issues during vaccination. He directed the concerned Chief Medical Officers to hold frequent meetings at the district level so that grievances, if any, would be resolved with timely intervention.

He asked tertiary care hospitals viz SKIMS, Soura, and eight GMCs of J-K to make a provision for a dedicated ward in their hospitals during vaccination sessions so that if any AEFI surfaces it would be resolved with timely intervention. He also asked them to follow all the AEFI Standard Operating Protocols (SOPS) so that no shortcomings would remain during the process. He asked them to ensure the streamlining of the system in their respective domains with respect to drugs, equipment, and other requirements. He also directed them to have proper documentation under different formats besides verbal autopsy, which has to be very sensitive, and asked them to make the Adverse Drug reaction Monitoring Centers functional at all GMCs and SKIMS. He said that a designated spokesperson would be nominated in J-K, division, and district level who would be only authorised persons to talk to media on the subject.