Q) Despite being the global covid vaccine hub, the progress of vaccination in India has not been up to the mark due to the presence of numerous challenges in the process. Comment.
Why this Question?
Important part of GS Paper-II.
Key demand of the Question
Major challenges in the vaccination drive in India and the approach that is needed by the government to overcome them.
Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.
Start with giving a context of the question.
In the first part, write about the challenges in the vaccination process against Covid19.
In the next part, highlight the approach that is needed by the government to overcome them.
Conclude with a way forward.
The world's largest vaccination programme for COVID-19 began on 16th January 2021 in India. It is India’s first adult vaccination drive. In the first phase of vaccination, the first 3 crore people to be vaccinated included the healthcare workers and frontline workers. The next phase focused on vaccination among those above 60 years of age and those with comorbidities among the age group of 45-60. The current phase that began on May 1, 2021 made vaccination open to all above 18 years.
Challenges to Successful Vaccination
- Vaccine Hesitancy- it is the biggest challenge for any vaccination programme where people are not ready to take vaccines due to several reasons.
- Infrastructural issues- for eg.- technical glitches in the Co-WIN app that is used for registering for the Covid 19 vaccination.
- Vaccine wastage- for instance each vial of covid vaccine contains 10 doses and they have to be used within 4 hours of opening. This leads to vaccine wastage.
- Under Financing: It is unclear if merely the policy move of liberalizing vaccine supply will leave States in India with the finances and negotiating power to procure enough stocks of vaccines.
- Shortage of Raw Material: The inability of getting the much-needed raw materials from the United States – bags, vials, cell culture media, single-use tubing, specialized chemicals, etc. that have now been banned for export has disrupted vaccine production in India.
- Shortage/ Non- availability of Vaccines- The vaccine procurement policy followed till now required the states to individually procure vaccines for themselves that led to shortage or non-availability of vaccines in several states.
- Digital Divide- It has emerged as a major challenge in the vaccination process especially among the lesser educated groups who are not digitally equipped and hence are unable to register for vaccinations through the CoWIN App.
Approach that is needed for a Successful Vaccination Campaign
- Eliminating vaccine hesitancy: Communication is required in order to resolve the confusions and to eliminate the vaccine hesitancy. Engagement with the community-based organisations and spreading awareness by educating people about the vaccine.
- Preventing vaccine wastage: organised appointment for vaccinations, ensuring once opened, the vaccine is surely utilised and not wasted.
- Massive Multimedia Campaigns: If fresh lockdowns are to be avoided, we need to enforce mask wearing by investing in massive multimedia campaigns for information, education, and communication, like it was done for polio and HIV.
- Supporting Domestic Production: It should also speed up approvals and financial packages for ramping up domestic production for expanding supply, expanding age bands.
- Strengthening Vaccine Supply Chain: Enhancing Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) system will enhance real-time information on vaccine stocks and storage temperatures across all country’s cold chain points.
- Special focus to those who are not well digitally equipped so that they are not left out of the drive.
- Continuing with the enforcement of the necessary protocols like masks, handwashing, etc.
India must vaccinate its population with the single-minded focus to achieve herd immunity and avoid any further waves as other countries are facing. For the world’s largest vaccination against covid-19, a multi-prong approach is required including educating people, following the vaccination process, keeping a check on new strains of virus, maintaining the records of essential data of the beneficiaries and refining our strategy.