The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how the ease of accessing vaccines and other important lifesaving health treatments greatly depends on where you live. In India, while urban centers have recently seen a rise in COVID-19 vaccination rates, rural and minority communities remain disproportionately unvaccinated due to lack of access or lack of information. To combat this inequity, Label STEP has initiated a vaccine roll-out plan for rural weavers throughout India’s Bhadohi and Mirzapur districts.
The vaccine distribution plan is organized through day-long events in central and accessible locations proximate to weaving communities. STEP arranges a designated date and time and then invites weavers and their families to come during this time receive their COVID-19 vaccine. To reach all who hope to receive a vaccine, awareness for the vaccination campaigns is raised through a variety of methods – including loudspeaker announcements throughout the areas surrounding the proposed venue. STEP also ensures weavers have access to information about the vaccine so that they can make an informed decision and encourage those interested to organise necessary documentation in advance.
On vaccination day, volunteers are on site to facilitate the flow of vaccine distribution and answer any questions. The vaccines are then administered with the assistance of the State Health Department, who are responsible for administering the doses and recording their credentials for a follow-up. A first event of such nature was held on October 21, 2021, in the village of Bauta within the Mirzapur district where over 100 vaccines were successfully distributed. For nearly 60 percent of those vaccinated, it was their first dose. The initial phase of the vaccination campaign will include 16 such events in different locations.
In areas where vaccine access has been easier and fewer people remain to be vaccinated, STEP is helping to raise awareness and guide individuals to the nearest government health facility distributing vaccines. In these cases, the coordinator helps facilitate not only the vaccination of the weavers but also their family members.
The vaccination campaign represents only one element of STEP’s comprehensive, targeted COVID-19 relief in India and other countries. Social health volunteers are being trained in facilitating the treatment of COVID-19 patients during future outbreaks, which is training that can be adapted to combat other epidemics or emergencies that affect the region as well. These crucial health programs help vaccines and other health and safety measures reach these communities sooner, so that weavers can protect themselves and their loved ones.
If you want to support the weaver vaccination campaign, please consider donating to Label STEP’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Thank you!