Vaccine rollout: Government framing norms to manage tricky issues

New Delhi: The Centre is framing detailed guidelines for addressing technical and scientific questions, such as the number of days a person who has already recovered from Covid-19 should wait before getting vaccinated, ahead of the first phase of vaccine rollout in the country.

The health and family welfare ministry has already released standard operating procedures to be followed at vaccination centres, number of beneficiaries to be covered in a day, and the protocols to be followed in case of adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) in the first phase of vaccination, covering 10 million healthcare workers.

However, there are technical questions on inoculation which have to be addressed, officials said.

“An expert group has been formed to address several scientific questions that have been raised,” a senior official told ET.

One of the main aspects of inoculating 10 million health workers would be whether to inoculate people who have recovered from the disease and how long should the person wait before getting the Covid shot.

The expert group is looking at international practices to frame the guidelines, officials said.

Both the UK and US, the first two countries to begin Covid vaccination drives, had addressed tricky questions like should recently-recovered healthcare workers give up their place in the queue as they have antibodies against the disease.

The UK’s vaccination policy recommends a waiting time of four weeks after onset of symptoms or four weeks from the first positive test before a vaccine could be administered.

India has already clarified that all healthcare workers, including those who have recovered from Covid, will be inoculated.

The guidelines would specify how much time should a healthcare worker who has recovered from Covid wait before getting a vaccine.

The guidelines would also specify vaccination of healthcare workers who have experienced prolonged Covid-19 symptoms and if they have undergone specific therapies like plasma therapy or taken antiviral medicines, officials told ET.

“If a person has taken plasma therapy, it could interfere with immune response to the vaccine,” a senior official said. “These aspects are being studied properly and these guidelines would be issued to the states to guide them through the vaccination process.”

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