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Sanjeevani continues to spread awareness and help India get vaccinated

By: Dr. Shailesh Wagle, Manager, Community Investment, United Way Mumbai

July 29, 2021 / 11:53 AM IST

The campaign aims at reducing vaccine hesitancy, build capacity of vaccine centres and ease the access to COVID vaccine for people in most difficult-to-reach localities. 

The COVID-19 infection has wreaked havoc across the globe with over a 187 million confirmed cases and more than 4 million deaths so far. India is the second highest contributor of cases with more than 30 million people affected and 4.1 million lost their lives to the virus. While the world struggles to find a cure for COVID-19, the vaccine has brought a hope to many to protect themselves and their families from the deadly infection.

India started the vaccination program on 16th January 2021 and is currently second highest in the world in terms of vaccine doses administered. While the number of doses is very high, considering the population of India i.e. 1.38 billion, only 22.3% have received the first dose and 5.52% have received both doses. These numbers are also more populated by the metro cities such as Mumbai and Delhi while the vaccination in rural and tribal population of the country which constitutes to more than 65% is still low. Multiple factors are responsible for the slow progress of vaccination of which the most prevalent is vaccine hesitancy.

India has huge amount of resources on the Covid-19 vaccination program but still unverified information and myths about the vaccine prevail in the communities. To ensure credible information is provided to people with lack of technological resources and education, Federal Bank in collaboration with Network 18, United Way Mumbai and Apollo Hospitals launched project Sanjeevani- A shot of life. The project aims at reducing the vaccine hesitancy, build capacity of vaccine centers and ease the access to Covid vaccine for people in most difficult to reach localities. The project is currently operational in 5 districts of the country viz. Amritsar, Dakshin Kannada, Guntur, Indore and Nashik and targeting 5 lakhs plus individuals in 1000 villages. Launched on April 7th 2021, on the occasion of World Health Day, the campaign till date has reached to more than 2 lakh people through mass awareness activities and one to one health enquiries. 10735 people have been assisted in registration for the vaccine on the Cowin portal and 4304 have availed transport facilities organized for people to go to the vaccine centers. While the campaign and the team working on ground continue their efforts to assist people get vaccinated, the vaccine hesitancy still prevails in areas which lace lack of technological connect. Wrong information is leading to many people not being ready to communicate with the team members and unwilling to go for the vaccine.

But as the campaign has progressed, many success stories have also emerged and one key learning is that proper communication is the key to reduce the vaccine hesitancy. People in most of the locations who have had discussions with the team with an attitude to understand the facts have taken the jab. The team has also received great support from government functionaries such as Anganwadi sevikas, ASHA workers and have helped people understand the importance of the campaign.

Sanjeevani- A shot of life campaign has shed light on the importance of communication during such nationwide programs and the necessity of having the feet on ground who can address queries of people and ensure they do not fall prey to false information.

While reducing vaccine hesitancy and facilitating vaccine jabs is essential, it is also important that the vaccine centers should be able to manage the incoming crowd and avoid becoming a source of infection. To do that, the hygiene, sanitation and waste disposal of these centers should be meticulous. The Sanjeevani campaign is working on this aspect as well by providing 100 centers in these 5 districts with necessary medical essentials to protect the staff and beneficiaries both. As of today, 18 centers in the Dakshin Kannada district have been provided with masks, sanitizers, cleaning material and much more.

During the campaign activities, many positive stories emerge which help to reduce the speculations against the Covid vaccine and one such comes from the village Ballarhwal of Amritsar where the Jaskaran and her family who was being forced by the community to not take the vaccine and avoid contact with the on- ground team took a stance against their neighbors and took the jab.  Jaskaran stood as an example because of which the rest of the community also underwent the vaccination and the team is proud of her.

The other example shows how local stakeholders can impact the attitudes of community. Vijaya Rani from Guntur- Andhra Pradesh is an ASHA worker with more than 8 years of experience. She has been a driving force who assisted the Sanjeevani team and with help of the Sanjeevani Gadi, she could change the mindset of community members who were reluctant to take the vaccine. She has been able to connect the team with ASHAs from neighboring villages where the team is doing awareness drives.

As next steps, the campaign is being intensified and with more and more local stakeholders joining in the movement, the outreach is expanding exponentially. The team will be focusing on getting more people to take the Covid vaccine and avoid any damage during the upcoming third wave of infection. More vaccination centers will be strengthened to be able to cater to the population and to achieve the end goal of complete vaccination in the districts.
first published: Jul 29, 2021 11:49 am
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