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New Delhi: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Sunday that states and Union territories should take necessary measures, including setting up separate vaccination centers, to avoid mixing Covid vaccines when administering vaccines to persons 15 to 18 years of age.

Inoculation of children in this age group will begin on January 3.

The vaccine option for 15-18 year olds would only be Covaxin, according to a set of new guidelines published by the Union Ministry of Health. Besides Covaxin, the country’s adult population receives Covishield and Sputnik V.

To ensure smooth implementation of the guidelines, Mandaviya hosted online interaction with the Ministers of Health and Senior Secretaries and Additional Chief Secretaries for Health of States and Union Territories (UTs).

He advised them to ensure the orientation of vaccinators and members of the vaccination team for the vaccination exercise for 15-18 year olds and for the identification of sites dedicated to vaccination sessions for this category of beneficiaries. , according to a statement from the Ministry of Health.

“To avoid mixing of vaccines during administration, separate Covid Vaccination Centers (CVCs), separate session sites, a separate queue (if at the same session where adult vaccination is in progress) and a separate vaccination team (if at the same session site) must be strived for, ”Mandaviya said.

States and TUs were asked to share their vaccine dose requirements by providing an estimate of beneficiaries at the district level, using Co-WIN, and to plan the distribution of Covaxin to session sites identified well in in advance, according to the statement.

Mandaviya reviewed public health preparedness for COVID-19 and the progress of the national vaccination campaign in light of the increase in Omicron variant cases.

The statement said it also reviewed recent decisions to roll out vaccination for the 15-18 age group and the “precautionary dose” (third dose) for identified vulnerable categories.

The online meeting was chaired by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.

The minister noted that initially, countries are experiencing a three to four times increase in Covid cases compared to their previous peaks.

Since the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, a strong push could overwhelm the medical system, Mandaviya noted.

He advised states to do nothing to strengthen infrastructure to manage a sharp increase so that India can escape unscathed from this episode of the pandemic, the statement said.

Mandaviya said in this regard, regardless of the variants of Covid, the preparedness and protection measures remain the same.

He urged States and UTs to revitalize their teams to work in the field and strengthen surveillance and containment mechanisms.

During the meeting, a detailed discussion on various aspects of managing Covid, including the rise of hospital infrastructure, increased testing, strict restrictive measures to break the chain of transmission and stress on appropriate behavior at Covid, took place, according to the press release.

Critical bottlenecks in medical infrastructure were also discussed.

Welcoming the dedication of states in their fight against the pandemic and simultaneously ensuring the well-being of people, Mandaviya said: “We have waged a vigorous fight against Covid earlier and this learning must be used to refocus on efforts against the Omicron variant. . “

He underscored the continued need for appropriate behavior at Covid as well as a renewed and rigorous focus on containment measures to deal with the current wave, according to the statement.

Stressing the importance of vaccination, the Minister observed: “We need to focus on planning with regard to vaccination of 15-18 year olds and precautionary doses for eligible beneficiaries.

He also urged states to ensure that healthcare and frontline workers are fully immunized as they form the vulnerable categories.

While appreciating the efforts of states and UTs to achieve a national average coverage of 90% of the first immunization dose of all eligible adults, he urged states with below-average progress to step up their campaign vaccination.

States were also urged to prepare a weekly plan to catch up to and exceed average national immunization coverage and to review the plan’s implementation daily, the statement said.

The focus was on the vaccination campaign in particular in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur, where the legislative elections will be held, he said.

Mandaviya also pointed out that various measures are taken by the Union government to increase infrastructure and vaccine production.

He called on States and UTs to share their best practices so that the whole country can benefit.

The minister noted that collectively, states and UTs have only used just over 17% of the approved funds available under the COVID Emergency Response Program (ECRP-II), the statement said.

States and UTs have been urged to accelerate physical progress under the ECRP-II in terms of intensive care beds, oxygen beds, pediatric intensive care beds and HDUs, etc.

They were also requested to effectively use IT tools for telemedicine and teleconsultation, including training and capacity building of human resources, timely availability of ambulances, readiness of states to operationalize emergency facilities. Covid for institutional quarantine and effective and supervised monitoring of those in home isolation.

At the same time, he also urged states and UTs to make better use of the funds approved under ECRP-II and invited any suggestions in this regard, the statement said.

State Health Ministers who joined the meeting included S Pangnyu Phom (Nagaland), NK Das (Odisha), Dr Prabhuram Choudhary (Madhya Prades), MA Subramanian (Tamil Nadu), Keshab Mahanta (Assam), Anil Vij ( Haryana), Satyendar Jain (Delhi), Alo Libang (Arunachal Pradesh), Banna Gupta (Jharkhand), Mangal Pandey (Bihar), TS Singh Deo (Chhattisgarh), Chandrima Bhattacharjee (West Bengal).