COVID-19 activities related to vaccine safety

Several initiatives have been taken by ITSU’s PI unit including some noteworthy innovations to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Establishing the Control Room to provide technical assistance to the COVID-19 Vaccine Support Cell of MoHFW was a major innovation.  The key domain areas of support within this  included procurement and distribution of vaccine supplies: support on a daily basis for facilitating procurement and supply of stocks for the GoI free supply and private sector; technical support to the Co-WIN team at the MoHFW; and support to the National COVID Support Cell. As part of this support, the PI team disseminated reports on coverage on a daily basis (four times a day) with  government stakeholders of Immunization Division, Press Information Bureau (PIB) and National Informatics Centre (NIC) which form the basis for routine performance analysis for all review purposes and updation of MoHFW website, press briefings, releases, tweets etc.

From time to time the unit is called upon to support the designing of strategies for vaccine introduction as per recommendations from NEGVAC including development of operational guidelines.

Ongoing support is also provided for the development of macro plans to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 immunization and to gather evidence to define the target population that needs to be vaccinated. In fact, ITSU has been supporting MoHFW in estimating target beneficiaries based on NEGVAC recommendations. Specific strategies have been updated on similar lines.

As part of training and capacity building, the PI unit has done some landscaping for newer modalities or channels of trainings. It has also prepared the training plan for the various cadres and developed these in collaboration with immunization partners.

Several national ToTs have been facilitated and trainings tracked at various level in coordination with partners. Trainers have been trained to conduct international trainings c for countries as part of the Grant-in-assistance provided through the Ministry of External Affairs.

Pilot testing of Co-WIN in the field was undertaken with ITSU conducting a dry run spread over two rounds (during December 2020) in select districts of three states. Rround I included selected districts of Rajasthan and Telangana and Round II covered select districts of Uttar Pradesh.  Additionally, the team assisted in the regular review and analysis of  coverage data with ITSU’s  involvement in all review meetings conducted to review the coverage of  vaccination in the states. The reviews are also supported through customized data analysis for  various vaccines/age groups/categories etc.

Data Management and Analysis is at the core of the work being done by the PI unit of ITSU. Vaccine recording and reporting formats and protocols were developed for collating and compiling  COVID-19 vaccination coverage. The  unit also serve as a data custodian, hosting the control room for COVID-19 vaccination coverage data. Weekly coordination with state immunization cells helped  validate all incoming data with each state and UT  being assigned  a Nodal Officer. Regular follow-up was done with the respective state for COVID-19 vaccination coverage and to ensure quality of data.

ITSU undertook extensive documentation of RI experiences in India during COVID-19 with  all 37 states/UTs resuming routine immunization services. This was done in the midst of the pandemic while navigating extraordinary challenges and constraints. During this period, a blueprint/SoP was developed for resumption of RI services. Support was also provided to the GAVI secretariat. Another unique effort was a Situational Analysis that was undertaken with respect to the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in the North-East States of the country.