Bengaluru: ‘The First Million’ a nationwide vaccination initiative by the American India Foundation that set out to inoculate 1 million marginalised Indians in July 2021, has concluded with an iconic achievement of 2 million doses. Partnering with the Common Services Centre (CSC), local on-ground NGOs, and State governments, the initiative was targeted towards India’s marginalised communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Focused on facilitating vaccination for sex workers, persons from tribal populations, migrant workers including street vendors, persons with disability and caregivers, vulnerable women, and minors (aged 15-18 years), the initiative recognised them as the six most vulnerable groups in need of immediate intervention.
Covering over 2 million (20 lakh) doses across 26 States of India, the beneficiary’s index of the marginalized community in the eight-month campaign period is:
- 6.9 lakh migrant workers including street vendors
- 6.8 lakh vulnerable women
- 1.9 lakh persons from tribal communities
- 1.3 lakh persons with disabilities and caregivers
- 23971 sex workers
- 2.9 lakh minors aged 15-18 years
An ambitious task to launch a nationwide collaborative movement to vaccinate a million most vulnerable Indians, AIF, through its streamlined efforts and partnerships surpassed its vision and has benchmarked an epitome of success through its swiftness, agility, and, ingenuity in executing the Initiative. The ‘First Million’ successfully created access to 2 million vaccines doses in hard-to-reach areas, tough geographies, and far-flung tribes. To address vaccine hesitancy, promote vaccine eagerness and COVID-19 appropriate behaviour amongst the identified vulnerable population, AIF also designed and executed Mission Corona Vijay – Har Baazu Mein Taaqat, an integrated 360-degree behaviour change communication (BCC) campaign under the Initiative to reach, persuade, and generate the much-needed awareness amongst the local individuals to get vaccinated and bust the myths, misinformation and fears around vaccines. The interactive and informative mass, mid, and interpersonal communication collaterals generated, were used by the on-ground activation teams through one-to-one and one-to-many interactions with the vulnerable communities. Catalytic to the success of the Initiative, the BCC Campaign, through its outreach drives, advocacy, counselling, and awareness building, generated awareness in 5 local languages and successfully reached 100 million people around the country.
Speaking on the success of ‘The First Million’ initiative, Mathew Joseph, Country Director, AIF said, “AIF primarily aims towards equity and inclusiveness and all our initiatives revolve around empowering diverse communities at the margins. ‘The First Million’ vaccination programme was a relentless initiative to ensure the safety of the marginalised sections of urban and rural India against COVID-19. AIF initiated ‘The First Million’ in 2021 at a time when vaccinations were not readily accessible in India. Adding to this ambitious vision was an almost impossible task to dedicate timely access to vaccinations for a segment of the society that is often neglected and not a priority, that too on a national scale. Our collaborative and sustained efforts with State Governments and our network of on-ground partners have enabled us to achieve this meticulous feat.”
Acknowledging the power of partnerships, Nishant Pandey, CEO, AIF said, “With AIF’s experience of working with frontline workers, communities, government, and healthcare experts, we designed ‘The First Million’ with equity, inclusion, and positive discrimination as its core guiding values. Our prioritized vision of inoculating a million most vulnerable Indians mobilising them, and helping them get vaccinated during the COVID crisis required a shared response and a collaborative momentum, and it is this core unity that has helped us achieve the milestone of 2 million doses in such a short period. The initiative is exemplary and vital in helping the population of India against one of the most devastating and unprecedented challenges that the country has faced.”
To achieve the mammoth vision, along with CSC as the end to end facilitation partner, AIF’s strategic partnerships included Uber as the Mobility partner; Apollo Hospital as the Vaccine administration partner; EY India as the Process Monitoring partner; and National Association for Blind (NAB), National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), Anaxee Digital Runners Pvt. Ltd., ASRA (MP), SAKSHAM, YRGCARE, Centre for Youth Development Activity (CYDA), Prodigal Homes, Himalayan Jyoti Samiti, Vaccine on Wheels, Leonard Cheshire, UVA JAGRITI SANSTHAN (UJS) as the implementation and outreach partners; and Wunderman Thompson and Gaon Connection as the BCC Campaign Partners.