United Way Mumbai and The Coca-Cola Foundation support vaccination drives across India
Social distancing and vaccination are the best two ways to save ourselves from falling into the COVID-19 trap. While the first one is in our own hands, the latter is dependent on the vaccination carried out by the medical world. The facilitators however are taking the vaccination drive seriously, especially amongst those who are from the marginalized section of the society. United Way Mumbai is one such facilitator that is committed to accelerating the nationwide efforts in combatting the humanitarian crisis unleashed by the second wave of the pandemic.
As per data and observation, due to the temporary side effects such as fever, nausea and body ache, many people are deterred from taking a vaccine. This naturally leads to slowing down the country’s attempts to stop the spread of the infection which could increase the chances of a third wave. Unfortunately, myths and misconceptions have worsened the situation for our healthcare infrastructure. While vaccines are usually taken without much thought, the level of vaccine hesitancy surrounding COVID-19 vaccines is surprisingly high. This is mainly due to the lack of prior experience or information surrounding the available vaccines.
The Coca-Cola Foundation has partnered with United Way Mumbai to spread awareness, facilitate community participation in vaccination and provide safety kits in 25 districts across 10 states of India. As the vaccination drive across the country and the world progresses, this partnership is committed to #StopTheSpread by encouraging and sensitizing over 4 million people in 4400+ communities and villages. Additionally, the campaign also aims to strengthen close to 440 vaccination centres in rural and urban India, supporting the Government of India\'s mission of vaccination for all.
Commenting on the initiative and the need for each one of us to step forward, Saadia Madsbjerg, President of TCCF, said, “We are proud to use our resources to fund initiatives to help curb the spread of COVID-19 around the world, including this grant to support the important work of the United Way Mumbai in India. We are hopeful that with collective effort and resilience by all, we will be able to steer ourselves out of these difficult times.”
This initiative is a part of The Coca-Cola Company’s “Stop the Spread” worldwide fund that is being channelized towards facilitating vaccine distribution, COVID safety kits (PPE - masks, gloves, sanitizers), and creating awareness around vaccination and sanitary practices to contain the spread of the pandemic. The initial phase of the #StopTheSpread India chapter is being rolled out across ten states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Telangana, Delhi, and Haryana.
The “Stop the Spread” project has adopted a three-fold approach. The first approach was importantly the awareness generation that happened through door-to-door health inquiries. Mass awareness drives are being conducted to dispel myths and promote the importance of vaccination to ease the fear of the side effects. By doing so, each person is being sensitized to COVID-appropriate behaviour that could reduce their chances of contracting the virus. With a lack of access to healthcare facilities, many did not know the full extent of how COVID-19 spreads and the steps to follow, should they feel unwell.
Next comes the registration where each eligible beneficiary is voluntarily registered on the CO-WIN portal or Arogya Setu app for their vaccination. This includes identification of a nearby centre, documentation check and transport to and from the location for both doses. UWM also follows up with those who got vaccinated in case a medical referral is required.
The second approach in the campaign was the facilitation of vaccinations to the public. The resistance amongst people to get vaccinated did not stop at the myths around getting vaccinated. There were technical challenges too. The technical knowledge required to register oneself was a challenge noticed on two sections of the public – the first was that section of society who were not aware of technicalities and resisted further. This resulted in many foregoing this entirely. The next set of people who were in the mode of resistance were especially those from rural villages. The knowledge divide is as visible as ever between those that have easy access to mobiles and tablets compared to those that cannot afford them. This was the reason why the campaign was gradually becoming a success. The campaign was greeted with positivity which enabled communities to get one step closer to a COVID-free state. As all communities are also equipped with informative posters and leaflets, beneficiaries are also able to learn about the virus in a detailed manner through images and graphics for easy understanding.
The third approach of the campaign was all about strengthening existing vaccination centres. It was anybody’s guess that intervention at this scale cannot be accomplished without key partnerships with state and community stakeholders such as Medical Officers and members of the Panchayat Samiti. Their support has been instrumental in gaining access to an already hesitant population. With the rate at which misinformation is flowing across the world, people are unlikely to trust individuals they have not met before. However, the support received has enabled the team to access remote locations and improve knowledge, attitudes and practices, thereby bringing the village one step closer to stopping the spread of COVID-19.
George Aikara, Chief Executive Officer, United Way Mumbai, said “In order to support the nation in combating this unprecedented health crisis, it is imperative to create awareness, bust myths around vaccination and strengthen infection prevention role practices, especially at vaccination camps. Lack of awareness and consultation around vaccination is one of the reasons for lower vaccination turnout, especially in rural areas. This financial support from The Coca-Cola Foundation helps us identify, plan and support interventions and encourage more people to get vaccinated and contain further spread.”
United Way Mumbai is a registered non-profit organization and is part of the 130+ year-old United Way movement engaged in nearly 1800 communities, spanning 41 countries across the world. Our mission is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities to advance the common good.
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