MoH all set to roll out mass vaccination

The ministry also plans to distribute vaccine using chopper services in case of emergency

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is all set to roll out mass COVID-19 vaccination on March 27.

After having prepared the macro plan for the vaccination, the ministry is also developing Bhutan Vaccine System App. The App will register all population above 15-years of age, segregate all eligible clients district and gewog wise for those who require vaccine administration under supervision or hospital setting.

Health officials said through the App, reminder would be sent through SMS on vaccination date and post and pre-screening of all eligible clients with standard questionnaires during the vaccination.

The App will also prioritize eligible list and deferred list after pre-screening, besides recording data and reporting on vaccination details, coverage, date and time.

The App will also report all ARFIs minors daily, serious cases immediately through SMS options, follow up reminders through SMS for second dose, check inventory vaccine stock monitoring and provide vaccination certificate.

National Storage Capacity

The total storage capacity required is 57,471 vials of 10 dose (1,500L) for 533,558 targeted population in the country.

The total storage capacity available in vials is 933,333 vials of 10 doses (24,360L).

While Thimphu has the highest targeted population with 113,369 and requires 149,419 storage capacity, Gasa with only 2,859 targeted population requires 13,023 storage capacity.

Vaccine Distribution Mechanism

An official from the MoH said that the vaccine will be transported through vehicle to central EPI cold storage in Thimphu or DOMSHI. From there it will be transported to the central to Gelephu regional EPI cold store, western Thimphu regional EPI cold store and to eastern Monger regional EPI cold store.

From central Gelephu region, it will be distributed to six dzongkhags, from western Thimphu region it will be distributed to eight dzongkhags, and from eastern Mongar region it will distributed to six dzongkhags. From there on, it will be distributed to primary health centers and vaccination sites.

The ministry also plans to distribute vaccine using chopper services in case of emergency.

The official said through chopper it will be distributed to Soe in Thimphu, Lunana, Samtse, Bumthang, Mongar, Jhomothsangkha, Samdrup Jongkhar, Pemagatshel and Sarpang.

During the mass vaccination rollout, around 2,401 vaccinators are required and 289 health centers. The number of vaccinators required for a week will be based on one vaccinator for 80 people per day.

This means that Thimphu alone requires 681 vaccinators and 18 health centers, and Gasa requires 16 vaccinators and four health centers.

The ministry has also identified schools, institutions and other gewogs centers as the vaccination post as appropriate and will also identify four or more well-ventilated rooms for registration, vaccination, observation and treatment rooms.

It will designate separate entry and exit for smooth flow of the clients, avoid crisscross movement of beneficiaries at the session site, deploy a minimum of two health workers in each vaccination post for screening and vaccination and minimum two to three non-medical frontline workers.

For registration and pre-vaccination screening, one health workers will check if the client has registered for the vaccination. If not, registration will be done on the spot. He/ she will then screen the client using pre-vaccination screening tool App. Eligible clients will be then sent to the vaccination room, one at a time.

Inside the vaccination room, they will verify the clients, administer the vaccine, write time of the vaccination on the dorsum of the left hand, send the client to the observation room and enter the details in the vaccine App.

During the observation, frontline workers will ensure all clients are observed for at least 30 minutes. They will monitor and report immediately any adverse reactions or complains to the health workers. Clients would be allowed to exit only after the completion of mandatory 30-minute observation. Further, clients would be advised to seek medical care for any post vaccination complaints. 

The first vaccination will be administered to a 30-year-old woman.

However, the official said in the center, who to administer the vaccine will depend on their macro plan.

It was also learnt that many Bhutanese residing abroad have also administered the COVID-19 vaccine. Former opposition leader Dr Pema Gyamtsho has also administered the AstraZeneca vaccine in Nepal on March 11.

Dechen Dolker from Thimphu