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Refocused Vaccination Campaigns (The Hindu)

Context: Refocused, rejuvenated local, national, and global vaccination campaigns are possible.

Major equity and justice concern in vaccination drive

  • Prioritisation not based on risk profile: Vulnerable section of the population like old age, historically marginalised communities etc., are not given priority in accordance with the risk they carry.
  • Gender inequities in vaccine uptake: Driven by economic pressures to protect the (often male) breadwinner in families and historically marginalised stature of women in society.
  • Poor surveillance: No COVID/vaccination data available based on gender, caste, religious, and indigenous identities.
  • Digital divide: Digital apps for registration are a recipe for inequity along with age, gender, and economic dimensions.
  • Global inequity: Wealthy countries secured more doses than they need, leaving poor countries to be solely dependent on supplies through COVAX.

Way forward: Local planning need to go hand-in-hand with equitable plans at national and global levels.

  • Prioritise people based on the risk and need: Vaccination policy should prioritise poor, religious minorities, socially disadvantaged castes, tribals, those living in remote areas, and women.
    • E.g. Chhattisgarh’s equity-focused vaccination plan: Based on ration cardholders.
    • WHO advisory: Call for prioritising sociodemographic groups at significantly higher risk of severe disease or death (for vaccination) in the context of limited supply.
  • Leverage existing capacities: Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and Auxiliary Nurse-Midwives (ANMs) have vast experience and expertise with campaign-style pulse polio vaccination and can be used for vaccine delivery.
  • Re-prioritise door-to-door campaign: In urban slums and neighbourhoods, where socially disadvantaged caste and community groups and migrants from Adivasi communities often reside.
    • It can also boost the accessibility to older adults.
  • Vaccination camps where people live and work: Could greatly enhance vaccine uptake among essential workers and the poor.
  • Prioritise districts with larger marginalised/minority population: Adivasi districts, districts with large Muslim population etc.
  • Address vaccine hesitancy districts with larger marginalised/minority population (like Muslims or tribal): Prioritise engagement of trusted spokespeople to engage in effective risk communication to build trust in the vaccine.
  • Women-only vaccine days: To ensure that women know that they are being prioritised, this is because, during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, Indian women were more affected than men.
  • Evolve data-driven interventions and prioritised resource mobilisation: Through better leadership to standardise and enforce meta-data collection and timely reporting.
  • Leverage donations and other support from developed countries: Equip COVAX facility to ensure equity and justice in global vaccination drive.
  • Long term vision: Set up vaccine distribution systems with equity in mind for the next pandemic.
  1. Lens of equity and justice
  2. Gender inequities in vaccine uptake
  • GS Paper 2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.