How India ramped up its vaccination drive

Synopsis: India’s vaccination drives have evolved over the last two decades. It has overcome not just scientific challenges, but also social issues like hesitancy.

Introduction

India’s health infrastructure was put under severe stress by the 2nd COVID wave. The best remedy to prevent recurrence is to complete the vaccination drive. However, Vaccination faces a great challenge of social hesitancy, with people running away from the vaccine and vaccination drives.

What were the apprehensions of the people on Vaccination?

In general, people are scared of medicines. Some believed that vaccines are not effective. Some people were worried about the reactions to the vaccines like fever. While others, particularly in tribal belts of Rajasthan, thought that vaccines are meant to target the leftover people of their tribes. So appropriate strategies had to be devised.

Read more: Intellectual Property Rights(IPR) and Universal Vaccination – Explained, Pointwise
What were the strategies adopted for overcoming the social hesitancy?
Vaccination
Source: Livemint

Doctors worked with ASHA workers to spread the awareness from door to door. Doctors also visited the Temples, mosques etc to rope in the people for the vaccination drive.

There were different factors that motivated the doctors. Some were driven by the targets that were given by the administration. Some want to vaccinate their entire district in record time.

Prominent rural personalities like village Sarpanch, Teachers and other functionaries were used as means to spread the message.

Even places like MGNREGA worksites were visited to educate people about vaccination.

Even emotional messages like the impact this may have on their loved ones were used to convince people.

All this turned out to be significant as gradually people started coming to vaccination centres.

Read more: Universal vaccination in India: Challenges and way forward – Explained, Pointwise
What is the way forward for the vaccination drive?

There are some issues like the last-mile delivery of the vaccines. To address this, India needs innovative approaches. For example, the Telangana government has started delivering vaccines through the Drones under medicine from the sky’ project.

Read more: Explained: Telangana’s idea of supplying medicines to remote areas by drones

A study in the Indian Journal of Public Health noted that the Indian vaccination program has matured and evolved over the last few decades.  The current ratio of rural to urban vaccination is 2.3:1, implying that the rural population is vaccinated more than twice of the urban population. If this continues, India may soon attain its target of immunizing all its adult population well within the stipulated timelines.

Source: This post is based on the article “How India Ramped up its vaccination drive“ published in Live Mint on 15th September 2021.

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