Representative Image
Representative Image

A Lancet report published recently suggests that flexible, agile vaccination strategies could play an important part in protecting lives and livelihoods as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold.

The Lancet report, titled 'Responsive and Agile Vaccination Strategies Against COVID-19 in India' was published in the current issue of its monthly, open-access global health magazine.

"Overall, our analysis offers a demonstration of the principle that even limited vaccination resources could be marshalled for maximum impact, if deployed flexibly in response to a rapidly evolving epidemic. Looking ahead, experience from influenza pandemics in 1918 and 2009, as well as the current COVID-19 pandemic in other countries, highlights the potential for not just two, but even subsequent waves, of infection. Flexible, agile vaccination strategies could thus play an important part in protecting lives and livelihoods as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold," the report said.

Door-to-door vaccination strategies would not be feasible under current guidelines, but the report advocates for innovative measures like satellite vaccination centres closer to hamlets in rural areas, converting halls and parking space for drive-in facilities.

"Thus, door-to-door vaccination strategies would not be a feasible option under current guidelines. However, other strategies can also be helpful in achieving rapid coverage in a defined geographical location. Innovative measures currently being tried in India include establishing satellite vaccination centres closer to hamlets in rural settings and resident welfare associations in urban areas; converting community halls and using large parking spaces for drive-in vaccination; and using mobile vaccination facilities to cover populations that do not live within easy access of vaccination centres," the report further stated.

Lancet also suggested Spatial targeting as another possible implementation strategy saying, "For example, in situations in which infection in a district appears to be geographically localised, outbreak response efforts might adopt a ring vaccination strategy by focusing first on the neighbourhood of this infection activity, before expanding to cover the rest of the district." The report hails the pre-existing infrastructure under the expanded programme of immunisation for storage of the COVID-19 vaccine currently in use.

"India benefits from a strong pre-existing infrastructure under the Expanded Programme of Immunisation with more than 26 000 cold-chain points across the country, the vast majority (97 per cent) of which are at subdistrict level. These facilities are appropriate for the storage of COVID-19 vaccines currently in use in India. Moreover, rapid-response vaccination might require a dedicated stockpile of vaccines, with careful consideration of whether this stockpile would be held at the district level or instead at state-level storage depots for rapid mobilisation," the report added.

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Free Press Journal