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How does India Plan to Vaccinate its 1.35 Billion People?

First phase of vaccination is all set to begin from January 16. This post details about the how-to of vaccination drives in India. 

Vaccination in India

From January 16, India is set to vaccinate its 1 crore health and 2 crore front line workers. It would be followed by vaccination of people above 50 years of age and under 50 years of age with co-morbidities. India expects to vaccinate more than 30 crore people in its first phase of vaccination. India has given “emergency authorization” for use of vaccines from Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. It is to be noted that vaccine from Bharat Biotech is still in final phase of testing and is considered as a backup vaccine to vaccine from Serum Institute (As per news sources). 


India’s COVID vaccination drive is built based on its Polio Vaccination Program, one of the most successful vaccinations programs in the world. This strong backbone has a network of 28,947 cold storage points across the country. 

Learn more about how vaccines produce immune response in our body

How are Vaccines being transported? 

Vaccines like all other perishables has to be stored at certain temperatures. This is where the problem begins. Vaccines from Pfizer has to be stored at –70 degree C and Moderna has to be stored at –20-degree C.  


Vaccine’s manufactured in India or imported are kept at Primary Storage Points after which they are airlifted at stored at government medical store depots in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kurnal and Mumbai. Then they have to be transported in insulated cold vans to District Vaccine Store and then to Primary Health Care Centers after which they are distributed to vaccination sites.  

India’s Medical Store Depots can handle storage of vaccines that require temperature of –20 degree C. But last in the chain, the district vaccine store and primary health care centers can only handle storage of vaccines at 2 degree C. That would mean we have to develop cold chain network from the ground if we are to vaccinate using Pfizer vaccines or with vaccines from Moderna. But, vaccines from Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech can be kept at 2-8 degree C making it ideal for use in India with our existing network. 

Does Vaccinations mean no mask? And COVID free? 

Yes, but also no. Vaccines are effective in preventing spread of disease. But in order to get out of the pandemic, vaccination must be done for at least 50% of the population in order to see any effect from it. Experts say that this would take at least until 2022 to vaccinate 50% of our population. 


India has seen a downward trend in the number of cases even with reported case of mutant strain from UK. But with upcoming festivals, extra precaution has to be taken to prevent a second wave. With theatres and schools to opened, significant amount of population that has remained inside would be exposed and might lead to surge of cases. Science says in order to achieve herd immunity, 70% of the population needs to be infected or vaccinated in order to prevent spread of disease. Yes, we have made tremendous progress recently. Number of cases has fallen and death rate is low. But every life matters. Every person dying from pandemic every day is someone’s father or mother and loss is a loss. So do your part to prevent the spread. Stay Indoors as much as possible. And when you are outside WEAR A MASK.  


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