By Samhita Social Ventures
April 28, 2021
Read Time: 4 mins
India has been reporting over 3,00,000 fresh cases of COVID-19 daily since April 2021, the highest since the pandemic broke out, a clear sign that we need to ramp up immunisation to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
India’s vaccination programme was flagged off in January 2021. The Government has cleared Serum Institute’s COVISHIELD (in collaboration with AstraZeneca) and Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN. Many other vaccines are in the pipeline and in advanced stages of being launched.
The current vaccination coverage accounts for a very marginal percentage of the country’s population and a collaboration between governments, corporates and civil society will be critical for success.
While the guidelines on corporate involvement keep evolving, the latest CSR amendment allows companies to account for expenditure on COVID-19 vaccines and activities that promote vaccination as CSR spending. However, according to the norms, companies can only claim vaccination cost as CSR activity if they inoculate local communities in a non-discriminatory manner. Vaccinating employees can not be included as a CSR expense. Samhita and the India Protectors Alliance (IPA) have identified three challenges that the vaccination drive currently faces and have put together approaches that could help overcome them.
Long queues and large congregations at vaccination sites are a common sight, and must be addressed with a more efficient distribution system.
Additionally, with India witnessing significant vaccine wastage, it is imperative to promote optimal utilisation and drastically reduce waste.
To help distribute vaccines more efficiently, IPA has designed the following interventions:
● Deploying and administering the vaccine in large proportions. With the support of private organisations, large cohorts could be covered in a short span of time.
● Identification, registration and mobilisation of beneficiaries at scale.
● Inoculation process, post inoculation monitoring; providing a robust technology platform to manage the programme and monitoring the vaccination of the beneficiaries.
● Community-wide immunisation drives to inoculate at risk vulnerable communities who have either very little or no awareness about the vaccination programme.
Vaccine hesitancy refers to the delay in acceptance or refusal to take the vaccine despite the widespread availability of vaccine services. This is influenced by factors such as complacency, convenience, and overconfidence.
To to build greater confidence in the vaccine, IPA has curated the following programmes:
● Leveraging community media platforms for community engagement on COVID-19 vaccine-related information and other health related information among remote, underserved communities in India.
● Pre-recorded messages uploaded on the platform for all the callers to listen to, updated on a weekly basis (more frequently, if required), based on the most frequently asked questions by users or the misinformation reported by field teams. New content pieces will also be developed based on trending questions.
Deployment of sufficiently trained vaccinators is the need of the hour. All health workers involved in the implementation of vaccination need to have adequate knowledge and skills to ensure safe and efficient vaccine administration. Training must cover a wide range of aspects — including knowledge on storage, handling, delivery and waste management of COVID-19 vaccines. Training health workers is also critical to address vaccine hesitancy and build public trust.
To better equip healthcare workers, IPA’s interventions include:
● Supporting MoHFW and State Government agencies in developing the healthcare workers’ training manual and creating additional IEC assets such as factsheets and FAQ documents in regional languages.
● Printing and dissemination of the training manual and IEC materials to relevant stakeholders.
● Conducting social mobilisation and advocacy activities.
A leading Insurance company, in partnership with Samhita and the IPA, has started a vaccination programme in Maharashtra & Andhra Pradesh which address both community needs and SBI’s priorities on worker’s health and workplace safety.
This is a comprehensive programme designed to assist marginalised and vulnerable communities at every step of the way, from pre-mobilisation to complete vaccination to follow ups.
We are looking for Corporate partners to mobilize communities and get them vaccinated at hospitals or government booths or any other set up approved by the MHFW.
To learn more and join us in our efforts to immunise India, contact us at [email protected] or fill in the form shared below.