Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHA of Assam), a non profit organisation working to strengthen the health movement at the grassroots level in Assam, with guidance and approval from the state and district health departments , is successfully implementing the public education campaign Win with Vaccines for building COVID-19 vaccine confidence in four low coverage districts across Assam: Baksa, Chirang, South Salmara Mankachar, and Udalguri, in collaboration with NATHEALTH – Health Care Federation of India, and the Centre for Knowledge and Development (CKD).
The programme was simultaneously initiated in the four districts in August this year. The objective of the campaign is to engage key stakeholders, collaborate with district authorities, and implement a comprehensive public education programmeto address knowledge gaps regarding the advantages of vaccination. The programme is usingan effective communication strategy that utilises both old and new forms of media.
The Win With Vaccine scampaign focuses on the Left Out, Drop Out and Resistant (LODOR) population across all age groups, with emphasis on school children in the 12-17 year age bracket and their parents to raise awareness, build confidence, and complete their COVID 19 vaccination.
To get as many people as possible to relate to, and learn from about the campaign, local talent groups, influencers, youth icons, religious leaders , community leaders, women leaders and the school fraternity were engaged in the Win with Vaccine campaign.
For maximum outreach, IEC/BCC materials (including posters, banners, folders), are being distributed at community level via Influencers, ASHAs, ANMs, and other stakeholders. The dissemination is primarily carried out in places where community members usually congregate like village corners, religious places, Health Centres, schools, market places, and during festivals.
Street plays, Miking, Radio Jingles, posters and wall paintings, highlighting the importance of complete vaccination further emphasises the goal and objective of the entire campaign.
“Even though the government is conducting extensive vaccination campaigns throughout the state, there are still a few pockets where people are reluctant to get vaccinated. People are avoiding the COVID-19 vaccination for numerous reasons, including myths and misunderstandings. This campaign is intended to dispel these myths and misunderstandings and prepare the vaccine-hesitant population for immunisation,” said Ruchira Neog, Executive Secretary of VHA of Assam.
“The campaign is tailored to reach the most hard to reach pockets of the district through a variety of contextualised communication mediums to maximum impact and get the desired outcomes , says Seema Gupta Advisor, Centre for Knowledge and Development,(CKD ) New Delhi.
The blocks per districts have been selected in consultation with, and as per the recommendation of the State and District health authorities, who have been consulted at every stage of the project, to keep the campaign attuned to, and in synchrony with the state specific requirements for COVID-19 vaccination coverage. To mobilise the population, the District Coordinators and Influencers carry out a series of Community Consultation programmes, visit the resistant community members. School Management Committees, Principals, Teachers etc. are also actively involved to increase the coverage of school children aged 12 to 17 years.
The Win with Vaccines has been a great opportunity to work in tandem with the government and other stakeholders to sensitise communities about the importance of completing the COVID-19 vaccination and increase the footfall for vaccination, which in turn will go a long way towards ensuring protection from the COVID-19 virus infection.
Community Members read the information on a Poster in a village in Baksa
Poster on Vaccine importance at a Health Centre in South Salmara Mancachar
An Influencer discusses the importance of complete COVID-19 Vaccination, and shares IEC material in the local language with community members in Udalguri district.