A nationwide inoculation drive for India is quite a mammoth exercise. With the virulent COVID- 19 second wave underway, this exercise is being carried out at a rapid pace. The Government
of India has taken this challenge head-on and has already vaccinated approximately 1711.55 Lakh doses in total and this number is increasing swiftly. With the Government opening
vaccination for the 18-45 age group, we are seeing a greater acceptance of the vaccine in society. Many people are now also becoming the voice for the vaccination drive, as they share
their seamless experience and bust myths that have been doing rounds. However, this journey isn’t without its pitfalls.

Even though the government has begun speeding up the vaccination drive for the majority of the population, the rural section of society is falling behind due to a lack of awareness, education, and other infrastructural challenges. Having made it mandatory for people in the 18- 45 age group to book their slot on the CoWin portal, has led to umpteen issues, especially for those in the rural communities. Vaccine shortages are leaving many major cities with few vaccination slots and registration issues. It is, therefore, not too hard to imagine, just how difficult it will be for people in rural India to register for the vaccine and to eventually get inoculated.

India is already dealing with the issues of digital literacy since a majority of people in rural India don’t have access to technology or information. Even if we presume they do, they face a language barrier while booking their vaccination slot since the website is in English. This is the biggest roadblock for the vaccination drive in India’s rural areas.

As rural fintech leaders, we at Spice Money, are doing our bit by facilitating the vaccination drive with the help of our Spice Money Adhikari network. Our Adhikaris covering almost 95% of rural pin codes, aim to spread awareness amongst the rural communities and also assist them in booking their vaccination slot. While many developers are building third-party tools for people to ease the process of booking a slot for the vaccination, the whole exercise becomes futile if the people aren’t able to register themselves in the first place. These are some of the points the National Health Authority (NHA), and the nodal agency managing the CoWin app, have to keep in mind while opening up the APIs for vaccine appointments to the public. That being said, the APIs released, enable developers to create tools that can help find a vaccination slot by pin code, by the district for a day or over 7 days. The biggest feature the system now lacks is the option to book this slot and not just check the availability. Another major concern is the issue of data security. While the union minister of state for health Ashwini Choubey stated that CoWin followed the privacy policy of the National Digital Health Mission, the several independent vaccine portals that are being developed might lack these privacy controls, thus being more susceptible to data leaks. When dealing with sensitive information like people’s identification, we need to ensure data protection at all costs.

Considering India’s multilingual demography, it is of utmost importance that we integrate a choice of language into the portal. This would help scale the vaccination initiative faster. During such times, we’re always set to extend a helping hand to ensure people living in rural areas get their slots. Our platform, Digital Dukan can help the Adhikaris reach out to these people, and releasing additional APIs would also help us book inoculation appointments for people in rural India. It is also important to devise a plan that notifies people about their second jab and therefore helps facilitate the second vaccination more effectively, through a positive first engagement. We also seriously need to consider the section of society that does not have identification documents like the Aadhaar Card. Currently, the Aadhaar Card number is mandatory for booking your appointment. However, we need to find solutions to make vaccination available to people with other identification documents as well.

The country is fighting a long battle against COVID-19 and while the government is putting their best foot forward to vaccinate the entire population, I think it is essential for us, private players, technology experts, corporates, and the entire ecosystem to work together, analyze the process through a wider lens and come up with solutions. Our mindfulness for proceeding with the next stage of vaccinations will help us reach out to a wider population. During a time like this, we all share the common goal of protecting India from another wave of this pandemic and saving lives. Let’s work together and develop a plan that offers solutions and serves the larger population of rural India.

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Commented on July 7, 2022



Commented on July 7, 2022


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