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With Its Constantly Changing Policies, How Long Will It Take India To Vaccinate All?

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

India, a country of approximately 1.39 billion people, is facing a continuous change in its Covid vaccination policy by the Central government. Addressing the nation on June 7, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi again took back the responsibility of vaccine purchase in the hands of the Central government.

Earlier, when Covid vaccination was started for 18+ citizens, the Central government had asked respective state governments to purchase vaccine doses for 18-44 age group citizens. This regular change in the vaccination policy can become a hurdle to vaccinate every citizen of the country by the end of 2021 as promised by the government.

Currently, India has two vaccines — Covidshield, made by Serum Institute of India (SII), and Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech. The Sputnik V vaccine, which was approved for use in April, is also available in the country now, with over three million doses supplied by Russia. The government’s target is to produce two billion doses between August and the end of 2021 to vaccinate the entire adult population.

India’s vaccine manufacturing was hit by a raw material shortage after President Biden invoked the US Defense Production Act (DPA) earlier this year, giving US vaccine makers priority access. Representational image.

Based on Census 2011 data for India, some 900-950 million people are 18 years and over, and therefore eligible for vaccination. So, two billion doses would largely cover the entire population, as estimated by the government.

The SII recently told the government they would produce 100 million doses per month from June onward and Bharat Biotech had said earlier that their capacity would be boosted to 80 million doses per month from August. These projections for the manufacturing of the currently approved vaccines in India still fall a long way short of the government’s ambition of two billion vaccines to be produced from August to December.

The government has said that it is also in talks with global producers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson&Johnson vaccines for additional supplies to India. But these manufacturers told the government they can discuss the supply of vaccines only by the end of this year.

India’s vaccine manufacturing was hit by a raw material shortage after President Biden invoked the US Defense Production Act (DPA) earlier this year, giving US vaccine makers priority access. The US administration then agreed to provide specific raw materials for the manufacture of Covishield vaccines in India, as the country was hit by another Covid wave.

But the Serum Institute says it still faces shortages of supply of raw materials required for manufacturing Covishield.

The data of the vaccination drives shows India began its vaccination drive in mid-January and over 20 crores vaccine doses have been provided to its citizens so far. In early April, daily vaccinations peaked at 36 lakh, but that figure fell down because many states such as Maharashtra and Delhi stopped the vaccination drive in their states citing shortage of vaccine supply from the Centre.

If the vaccination drive goes by the same pace, then it will take approximately 1.5 years to vaccinate the entire adult population of the country. If a vaccination drive of an entire country has to be completed in less time, then the government and its administration should put extra efforts to maintain a regular supply of vaccines to each state in appropriate time.

When the second wave of coronavirus hit the country, the government had stopped the Indian-manufactured vaccines that were operating under the global Covax vaccine-sharing scheme. The SII has also made clear that it will not export any of its vaccines to other countries. Seeing the large population and shortage of vaccines supply in India, this seems a better decision taken by the government.

Due to unexpected second wave of novel coronavirus in India, it has also affected the Covax vaccine-sharing scheme. The international scheme to ensure equal access to Covid-19 vaccines is 140 million doses short because of India’s continuing Covid crisis. The SII, the largest single supplier to the Covax scheme, has made none of its planned shipments since exports were suspended in March.The SII was due to supply around half of the two billion vaccines for Covax this year but there were no shipments for March, April or May. The shortfall is expected to rise to 190 million doses by the end of June.

The United Nations Children’s Agency, or UNICEF, buys and distributes vaccines to different countries. It has also urged G7 Nations and European Union to share their doses. Seeing the present condition of the coronavirus crisis and unequal supply of vaccines to different nations, the Indian administration and government have to devise a proper strategy so that vaccination of all Indian citizens can be completed by the end of 2021.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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