Internet Penetration versus Vaccine Propagation - Mobilising Vaccination over Internet will not work in Rural Rajasthan

Internet Penetration versus Vaccine Propagation - Mobilising Vaccination over Internet will not work in Rural Rajasthan

Rural Rajasthan and in essence the whole of Rural India is facing vaccine exclusion due to the compulsion of booking vaccine slots on the ‘government managed’ website or apps.

 
Internet Penetration versus Vaccine Propagation - Mobilising Vaccination over Internet will not work in Rural Rajasthan

18+ vaccination began with a bang on 1 May. The bubble burst in the very first week when vaccination was opened up for the largest section of the population – 18 to 44 years, and vaccine supply diminished even for the central government managed over 45 age group. The Central Government very conveniently handed over the onus of sub 45 age group to the state and promised to continue the earlier commitment with the same flow. Did not work.

The rush towards vaccination was further decelerated with the compulsion of registering on the COWIN site, Arogya Setu App and Umang App. Slots were booked the moment they were released. If we talk about Udaipur district, less than 30% of the total slots are allotted to the Urban areas, whereas the major slots are allotted to the rural areas.

As per the Performance Indicator Report of TRAI dated 31 Dec 2020, Internet penetration in Rural Rajasthan is 20.7 million, which is 35.5% of the total Rural Population. This, coupled with low literacy and the constraint of an “English only” site / App is leading the rural folk to vaccination exclusion – at least where the 18-44 age group is concerned.

COWIN site is stuck with design issues – the front end is changing to give a better user interaction, but even while internet savvy urban folks are facing confusion in scheduling slots, those on the rural side are not even aware of how to go about it. Internet penetration is low, broadband and wireless speeds are not present at all and the worst is that the site is in English.  Result – while urban slots, which are less than 50% of the total allocation, are being filled in the blink of an eye, the rural slots are still vacant.

Those looking for vaccination in the Urban areas are picking the Rural slots and are travelling to these places to get their vaccinations.

In order to create a robust vaccination inclusion specially for the rural populace, it is important that vaccination awareness with a planned vaccination camp management solution be arrived at so that each rural block is covered thoroughly.

The district CMHO office recently announced the opening of dedicated COVID Consultation Care Centres across the district – especially in the rural blocks.  These COVID Consultation Centres should be given the task of enabling Vaccination drives for the rural folk on an urgent basis, so that Vaccine Inclusion survives. If the Internet becomes the ruling factor, this is bound to fail.

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