Ahead of the roll-out of vaccination of people aged between 18 and 45 from May 1, the Centre on Saturday asked states to register additional private vaccination centres and ensure effective crowd management at sites and stressed on inoculation through "only online registration" for beneficiaries in the age bracket.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management to Combat COVID-19 chairman RS Sharma held a high-level meeting on Saturday to guide states and union territories on effective implementation of the new vaccination strategy (Phase-3).

To review their augmentation plans so as to strengthen the existing hospital and clinical treatment infrastructure for COVID patients, RS Sharma mentioned that the CoWIN platform has now stabilized and is working at scale flawlessly.

With regards to the Phase III Vaccination strategy from May 1, 2021, the states were specifically advised to register additional private COVID vaccination centres (CVCs) in mission mode by engaging with private hospitals, hospitals of industrial establishments, industry associations coordinating with designated appropriate authority, the mechanism for applications/requests and their processing and monitoring of pendency of registration.

They have also been asked to monitor the number of hospitals that have procured vaccines and have declared stocks and prices on COWIN portal and schedule vaccination for eligible population for providing adequate visibility of vaccination slots on COWIN, the ministry said.

The states and UTs were asked to prioritise decision on direct procurement of vaccines by states/UT government and publicising about facility of 'only online registration' for the 18-45 age group.

To prepare and implement a comprehensive plan for augmentation, the states were advised to identify additional dedicated Covid-19 hospitals and prepare field hospital facilities either through DRDO, CSIR or similar agencies in the public and private sector and ensure adequacy in terms of oxygen-supported beds, ICU beds and oxygen supplies.

The states were also advised to maintain a real-time record for available beds and make them easily accessible to the general public and create guidelines and enable states to take over private health facilities to provide COVID-19 care.

With expanding designated COVID-19 care facilities for isolation of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients as all those who either cannot isolate at home and/or are willing for institutional isolation will have access to the requisite space and care.

The ministry cited various steps taken by the central government to augment hospital infrastructure in the states and UTs.

The States/UTs were guided to coordinate with corporate entities/PSUs/Government departments for their CSR funds to facilitate setting up makeshift hospitals and temporary COVID care facilities.

"Cooperation with National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) for repurposing healthcare facilities (spread across 18 regional offices) for creation of COVID facilities was also advised. They were also advised to use Railway Coaches for management of mild cases; details of availability of 3,816 such coaches, across 16 Zones of Railways have been shared with the States," the health ministry said.

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