This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by India Fellow Social Leadership Program. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Vaccination Journey That Helped 45,000 Migrant Workers

More from India Fellow Social Leadership Program

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

How does a 5-year-old non-profit organisation conduct Covid vaccinations for more than 45,000 (and counting) migrant workers in one district? It is just one of the many initiatives at my host organisation – the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID) in Kerala.

These vaccination drives under National Health Mission are one-of-a-kind focused health interventions for migrant workers in the Ernakulam district.

The Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID) amidst a vaccination drive
The Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID) has been running a massive vaccination drive.

In October this year, I jumped into their moving train, post the (real) vaccination rush. In Kerala, through the Department of Labour and Skills, the government had been conducting free vaccination camps specifically for migrant workers.

As a part of it, CMID assisted in daily camps for more than 1000 people. However, the department stopped the active organisation of immunisation camps.

If We Don’t, Who Will?

One of the biggest reasons for doing these specific camps is that every day and hour of work is crucial for workers to earn their livelihoods. It’s not easy to take a leave and commute to the government hospital, which may not even have the vaccine available when they reach there.

Hence, the CMID model involves going to their workplace or residential areas and conducting drives even if only two people are in a company or factory.

The process involves team members conducting outreach activities to discover these factories in an area. It requires getting details about the number of people to be vaccinated, and if second doses are to be administered, then which vaccine out of the two (Covishield and Covaxin) is required.

Then we coordinate with the National Health Mission, who ask us to collect the vaccine from a specific PHC (Primary Healthcare Centre) or a public hospital. They also provide us with details to start the day as a ‘Vaccinator‘ on the Cowin portal.

From the Collector Ernakulam on migrant vaccination and acknowledging CMIDs efforts.

Two cars, each with a doctor, one or two nurses and coordinators, then take a car trunk full of paraphernalia, including everything from table cloth to emergency kits, three coloured bags for biomedical waste and even a printer to give copies of the certificate wherever required.

What these concerted efforts needs is an accurate database for each day. Hence, every day we note the number of people vaccinated for each dose in age brackets and send their complete details to the appropriate authorities.

While I summed it up in a couple of paragraphs, it is challenging to do it every single day.

Practical Challenges

  1. One of the biggest hindrances is not having the actual number of workers. The lack of data, allegedly due to deflated numbers provided by the companies to the labour department, grossly affects the work.
  2. The process is thus time intensive. Places that say they have ten people have 50 or vice versa, and hence, sometimes an entire day goes in figuring out these essential details. As the balance vaccines have to be returned to the PHC on the same day, we also have strict time constraints. So on days when we barely do 50 vaccinations, there creeps in a feeling of guilt for under utilising the resources we have.
  3. There is a general disinterest in getting vaccinated now, especially by the employers, so that the working hours are not spent on anything else. Many of them had an issue with providing a 30-minute rest period after the shot when we conducted drives in their company itself. Many workers have registered in groups, either by themselves or on behalf of their company, using one single phone number. This prevents them from getting their vaccination certificates as the online portal does not allow us to change the mobile number once given. Additionally, if the vaccinators like us mess up a digit, the worker will not get the message or access their certificate. This is where giving copies on the spot becomes beneficial.
  4. In places where we cannot print the certificates, for anyone with a different registered number or just generally unaware about getting the certificate from the website, we send it to their phone immediately through WhatsApp or Bluetooth.
  5. There is unawareness and ignorance about the disease and the need for vaccination. Many of them are getting vaccinated to travel at ease or not get harassed by police. It thus also becomes our responsibility to conduct these drives and ensure health awareness simultaneously. Many of our camps are thus followed with a visit to our Bandhu Clinic, a unique medical unit and India’s first mobile Covid screening unit for migrant workers.
  6. Our overall data has only a few numbers of women migrants. While accessing details, we observed that the female family members registered with the workers were not fully vaccinated. There have thus been added efforts to be more inclusive. We ensure travelling to industries such as fish processing with many women workers. We also try to ensure privacy while vaccinating, wherever possible.

The challenging nature of the drives ensures that we always try to think a step ahead. Of course, we make mistakes and learn each time, but the fact that we continue to reach out to 200-300 people every day in one district proves that there is still a lot of work to be done.

CMID amidst a vaccination drive
Two cars, each with a doctor, one or two nurses and coordinators, take a car trunk full of paraphernalia

If you wish to know more about our programmes or contribute to help us reach the maximum number of workers, please get in touch here.

About The Author: Disha Devdas is an India Fellow working with CMID (Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development) in Ernakulam, Kerala, as a part of her fellowship. She is helping the team make possible adequate access to healthcare for the community.

India Fellow applications are now open for our 2022 cohort.

The post was previously published on India Fellow’s website.

You must be to comment.

More from India Fellow Social Leadership Program

Similar Posts

By Sumbulkhan Khan

By Saloni Mamodiya

By Charkha Features

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        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.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’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.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below