Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Saturday kicked off the dry run exercise for the much-anticipated coronavirus vaccination programme likely to be launched in the country soon.

The full-fledged dry runs shall be carried out at multiple locations in Jalna, Nandurbar, Nagpur and Pune after the health workers underwent intensive training for the purpose last month.

Tope said that through the dry runs, all efforts are being taken to ensure that the actual vaccination programme, whenever it is launched, shall pass smoothly and with full safety protocols.

"People must keep in mind that getting vaccinated does not mean they are immune to the coronavirus and they can discard Covid protocols. They will still have to adhere to face masks, sanitising, cleanliness, physical distancing norms etc, as usual," Tope asserted. This is more so because the virus has already mutated and can come in new strains, experts fear.

Tope went around one health centre and inspected the dry run preparedness in the presence of doctors, nurses, dummy patients, the identification process, the main vaccination room, post-jab the fully-equipped waiting room to check for any reactions or side-effects, etc. along with attendants to handle any situation.

The BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) said that the civic body is all geared up to carry out the Covid-19 vaccination drive as and when they will receive the blueprint from the Centre.

BMC Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said that the plans at the micro-level related to storage, transport, vaccination centres, training of staff are in place. "Our preparation for the COVID-19 vaccine is complete, we are doing a dry run. 5 units are ready at Rajawadi Hospital in Mumbai, in which 225 employees have been trained."

"5000 workers have been prepared for Mumbai. We will prepare 5000 more people in the coming days," he added.

Kakani said that eight centers have been created for the coronavirus vaccine and 8 more have been reserved so that they can be used if needed.

COVID-19 vaccine facility will also be available in four medical colleges.

The data of 2 lakh citizens has been uploaded. There are preparations to store 62,000 COVID-19 vaccines.

Maharashtra is presently having the highest number of Covid-19 deaths and cases, with Pune emerging as the country`s worst hotspot.

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