Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHA of Assam), a non-profit organisation working to strengthen the health movement at the grassroots level in Assam, is successfully implementing the public education campaign Win with Vaccines for building COVID-19 vaccine confidence in four low coverage districts across the state of 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).
This is being done with guidance and approval from the state and district health departments.
The Win With Vaccines campaign was simultaneously initiated in all four districts in August this year, with the objective being to engage key stakeholders, collaborate with district authorities, and implement a comprehensive public education programme to address knowledge gaps regarding the benefits of vaccination.
The programme employs an effective communication strategy that incorporates both traditional and emerging forms of media.
The Win With Vaccines campaign targets the Left Out, Drop Out, and Resistant (LODOR) population across all age groups, with an emphasis on school children between the ages of 12 and 17 and their parents in an effort to raise awareness, instil confidence and ensure that they receive their COVID 19 vaccination.
The campaign enlisted the help of local talent groups, influencers, youth icons, religious leaders, community leaders, women leaders, and the school fraternity to reach out to a broader audience.
For maximum outreach, IEC/BCC materials (including posters, banners, and folders), are being distributed at the 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, marketplaces, 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," said Ruchira Neog, Executive Secretary of VHA of Assam.
"People are avoiding the COVID-19 vaccination for numerous reasons, including myths and misunderstandings," she added.
"This campaign intends to dispel these myths and misunderstandings and prepare the vaccine-hesitant population for immunisation," Neog added.
"The campaign is tailored to reach the most hard-to-reach pockets of the district through a variety of contextualised communication mediums to maximize impact and get the desired outcomes," said Seema Gupta, Advisor, Centre for Knowledge and Development,(CKD ) New Delhi.
The blocks per district 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, and visit the resistant community members.
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.
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