The ongoing coronavirus has shown that though nobody is safe from the virus, still there are some sections of the society that are more protected as compared to others. Even when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Government has launched the massive vaccination drive with free vaccination in all the Government hospitals, the euphoria of getting the jab seems to be confined to be the well-off sections of the society. The long queues outside hospitals hardly have anyone from the weaker section of the society. Even in the second phase of the vaccination drive, we have been observing a new trend that only educated people are coming out and taking the jabs.
If we compare India with many other South-East Asian countries, it has many great advantages. The first and foremost is it has an indigenous vaccine industry and it has successfully administered vaccines to millions in the past. But if access to vaccines for all is our calling card, we must factor in the stark, ground realities — like the class divide, the digital divide, the information divide and the gender divide in society. With still many Indians are not confident about using Internet, India’s capable frontline workers have to be mobilised to plug some of these gaps for broader vaccination coverage as the poorer sections are either still unaware of the vaccination or have inhibitions or hesitancy towards it.
Mass Awareness program with Anganwadi and frontline workers
Since the attendance of weaker section of the society is quiet negligible across all the regions of our country, mass awareness program is the need of the hour to get these people inoculated. Mostly the Anganwadi workers are vaccinated, so they here play the key role. They need to go door to door and educate the women of the households first about the vaccination. Men of such households generally are the breadearners and they remain outside the house for for work and/or supplementary income. So, if the women are educated about the vaccine, they will also educate the eligible male members of the house.
Fake news about vaccination should be banned immediately
Many social media platforms are flooded with fake videos of adverse effects of vaccination or even death after vaccination. As they say, rumours spread faster than news, therefore our cyber laws should be strict against such piece of rumours. Government should frame serious charges against those, who are spreading rumours about the vaccination. As now internet has a deeper penetration, these videos are being accessed by these people, who can’t judge between the fake and original news, leading to the no turnout in the vaccination drive. Nobody has really explained all the details to them in a language they can understand and dispelled their fears about the vaccine.
No clarity about the gap between first and second dose
It has also been seen even in the middle class that the one dose of the vaccination is enough to build the requisite immunity against the COVID. But, this is really not so. Anti-bodies need time to grow depending upon one’s body and lifestyle preferences. We need strong public health campaigns to sledgehammer these basic health facts. Globally, vaccine equity is seen to be the biggest moral test before the global community. It is being argued that since the coronavirus doesn’t really discriminate between the wealthy and developing nations — access to, and distribution of vaccines, shouldn’t either. The same applies within a country.