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Vaccine on wheels: Over 4,000 vaccinated in Pune; focus on old age homes, mental health rehabs, HIV-positive persons, CSWs

Five mobile units each comprising a doctor, two nurses, two healthcare assistants and one driver with an ambulance function like a vaccination booth and take the service to the community.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: May 24, 2021 8:07:18 pm
At a vaccination centre in Pune. (Express photo : Pavan Khengre)

A joint initiative by the PMC, Pune’s Vaccine on Wheels, is reaching out to senior citizens at old age homes, mentally challenged persons at rehabilitation homes, commercial sex workers, HIV-positive persons and labourers to administer the Covid-19 vaccine. A month since the free-of-cost initiative was launched, over 4,000 beneficiaries have been inoculated as part this effort.

Additional municipal commissioner Rubal Agarwal told The Indian Express that they were focusing on vulnerable groups at old age homes, mental rehabilitation institutions and others so that maximum people could be vaccinated. “For instance, at Niwara old age home, at least 180 senior citizens were vaccinated at their doorstep, while another 100 HIV-positive persons and sex workers were also administered the vaccine on Sunday,” Agarwal said.

The vaccination camp was underway on Monday at Budhwar Peth with the support of Vanchit Vikas NGO. Meena Kurlekar, coordinator at Vanchit Vikas, said this was a welcome initiative as there was a certain amount of hesitancy among vulnerable groups. Earlier, more than 100 mentally ill people were also inoculated at Pratiti psychosocial rehabilitation centre run by an NGO.

Jignesh Patel, CEO and founder of Vaccine on Wheels, said they had set up the country’s first doctor-based mobile vaccination clinic in 2019. “This was done in partnership with IIT Hyderabad and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,” Patel told The Indian Express.

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“We are capable of handling adverse events post immunisation and our focus has been on routine immunisation for children at the doorstep. Now, with the Covid-19 pandemic, we have tied up with the PMC and also with the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation),” he said.

Patel said the concept was aimed at serving the underprivileged and reaching out to sections at the bottom of the pyramid. So, five mobile units with a team of one doctor, two nurses, two healthcare assistants and one driver with an ambulance each functions like a vaccination booth and takes the service to the community. “We have vaccinated more than 4,000 beneficiaries, including labourers working for the Pune Metro project,” he said.

While the PMC supplies vaccines and logistics, the Vaccine On Wheels programme also raises financial support from CSR (corporate social responsibility) partners like Rotary Club, Persistent Foundation and others. “Last week, we partnered with the BMC and will be expanding mobile units from five to 20,” he said, adding that the vaccination was free of cost.

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