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The vaccination drive against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the country could take a year or more, according to the Union ministry of health and family welfare.

“There are five key principles for this entire exercise which will last maybe beyond one year,” said Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan during the weekly briefing on Covid-19 updates on Tuesday.

The first key principle is to ensure people’s participation (Jan Bhagidari); the second principle is to utilise experiences of elections, such as the booth strategy, and the universal immunisation programme; no compromise of existing health care services, especially national programmes and primary health care; no compromise on scientific and regulatory norms, other standard operating procedures; and orderly and smooth technology driven implementation.

“When Covid-19 outbreak started, non-Covid health care services were hugely affected. We do not want that to be repeated. There maybe a short delay of certain services where we might have to reschedule certain programmes but no service will be shut in future when Covid-19 vaccination drive is on. And since governments are guided by scientific norms and standard operating procedures, and therefore, transparent, we would expect that everyone would scrupulously follow these SOPs while the vaccination rolls out in the country. Also, the entire process is technology driven,” he said.

Bhushan also reiterated that there will be a sequential roll-out of Covid-19 vaccine, depending on the availability of the vaccine.

The roll-out of Covid-19 vaccine will provide priority to the healthcare workers and the frontline workers who are estimated to be around 30 million, followed by those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities numbering around 270 million.

The vaccination drive will begin with 10 million healthcare workers from across the country on January 16.

Three phases of dry runs have already been conducted across the country, with the third dry run having been conducted on Friday across 615 districts covering 4,895 session sites in 33 States/UTs.