USAID Partners with Local Governments and the Private Sector to Drive COVID-19 Vaccination Uptake Amongst Rural Communities

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Bangalore: India is undertaking one of the world’s largest vaccination campaigns and has made tremendous progress, with nearly 150 crore doses administered to date, and several million more each day. To help India expand the reach of vaccinations, USAID/India, Catalyst Management Services – COVIDAction Collaborative, and MOMENTUM Routine Immunization Transformation and Equity – John Snow India, have launched a mobile vaccination programme to increase vaccination access and coverage for hard-to-reach populations.  

Together, the partners have launched more than 90 mobile vaccination units, accompanied by doctors and nurses, in 27 underserved districts in Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. The mobile units will move from village to village, with a target to deliver more than seven lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses over the next three months. 

Importantly, this initiative harnesses the innovation of the private sector to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic, leveraging more than INR 10 Crore for the mobile vaccination units in collaboration with GiveIndia, 3M India, and Franklin Templeton, along with a private doctor-based mobile vaccination provider, Vaccine on Wheels. These engagements with the private sector were accelerated by the Boston Consulting Group in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) in India. 

The initiative furthers the government’s “Har Ghar Dastak” programme, which aims to reduce inequality of access by bringing vaccines closer to underserved communities. As vaccination eligibility and guidance evolves, the units will also visit areas close to schools and colleges, along with delivering precautionary doses for patients above the age of 60 with co-morbidities. 

Veena Reddy, USAID/India Mission Director, said, “It is critical to vaccinate as many people as possible in order to save lives, jumpstart the economy, and prevent the threat of new variants. USAID is proud to support this collaborative and innovative initiative, which is bringing together the government, private sector, and civil society to increase vaccine coverage and mitigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Speaking about the partnership, Shiv Kumar, Co-founder of Catalyst Management Services and Chief Integrator of the COVIDActionCollab says,”We believe that these mobile vaccinations are a great way to reach the last-mile communities who cannot travel or are present in geographies which are particularly challenging. Given the need for rapid coverage of two doses of vaccine, it is important to use a range of measures to improve access and reduce vaccine inequity. The mobile vaccine delivery programme is implemented with the assistance of certified medical practitioners onboard, in partnership with the Government who will ensure that those who have access issues are addressed, in an efficient and safe manner. As we push forward urgently towards universal vaccination for all, we must ensure in particular that the most vulnerable are not left behind.”

“JSI is complementing the efforts of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to facilitate COVID-19 vaccination particularly for marginalised and vulnerable populations through this partnership. Vaccination through the mobile van is one of the modes proposed to achieve 100 per cent vaccination coverage in the country,” said Sanjay Kapur, Managing Director, John Snow India Pvt. Ltd. (JSI).