Business Wire IndiaThe second wave of Covid-19 in India caught everyone unaware and brought so much devastation. Everyone hoped that a quick vaccination rollout would prevent that from happening, but that didn't happen. While the nation is reeling under the devastating consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, one fails to notice how it also brought to the fore conscientious young minds wanting to solve immense challenges posed by this pandemic. One such example is of a group of high school students across India who have come together to fight vaccine hesitancy through their advocacy group ‘Vaccine Champion’. This campaign was co-founded by Aanandita Kapoor and Vedanshi Seth of The International School Bangalore (TISB) almost a month ago.
They had been reading about the paradoxical problems of ‘vaccine shortage’ and ‘vaccine hesitancy’ ailing the vaccination drive in India. "I began to think of ways in which I could help in this pandemic. Stepping out of home was out of the question, especially during this second wave. Therefore, we thought of setting up a Covid vaccine advocacy group run by high school students,” says Aanandita Kapoor. Her co-founder Vedanshi Seth recounts, "I had heard stories how even some healthcare workers were reluctant to accept the vaccines, and that made me realize that ‘Vaccine Hesitancy’ was a real thing. We had to do something.”
For this purpose, they have set up a website https://vaccinechampion.com and a dedicated YouTube channel, 'Vaccine Champion,' featuring expert interviews to bust the myths regarding vaccination. The group also has set up an Instagram page @vaccinechampion to spread information on this popular social media platform. The two co-founders rely massively for various activities on their team. The team includes Siona Arora from DPS, Chandigarh as the PR Head of Vaccine Champion, Thaneesha Vashista from Vivek High School Chandigarh as its Creative Head, Khushi Gupta from The Sri Ram School, Moulsari as Training Head, and Mayas Kumble from TISB, Bengaluru as the Research Head.
Their plan is straightforward. By recruiting ‘City’ and ‘School Vaccine Champions’ across the country, recruit as many ‘Vaccine Champions’ in their respective schools. Their goal is to reach out to as many students as possible. The group wants students to use vaccine advocacy to promote vaccination amongst their family members, friends, and people in their social circle. The membership of the Vaccine Champion has been kept open to all high school students across India.
“We aimed to enroll up to three Vaccine Champions in every city of India, who would, in turn, try to enroll at least one school champion for every school. The school champion could then enroll Vaccine Champions in every class who would engage in discussions in their respective WhatsApp groups and at home. The idea was that even if one student Vaccine Champion convinces ten persons to get vaccinated, it will make a huge difference in the long run,” said Aanandita. They now have more than 25 team members from Bengaluru, Nagpur, Delhi, Noida, Panchkula, Chandigarh, Mohali, & Ahmedabad in a short span.
The group also aims to conduct interviews with various specialist doctors to debunk the myths surrounding vaccination in people with various health conditions. “So far, we have interviewed experts in Rheumatology, Cardiology, Kidney Transplant Surgery, Surgical Oncology, Pulmonology, ENT Surgery, and Gynecology from leading hospitals in India and abroad about Covid vaccines," informed Vedanshi.
The Vaccine Champion team is also creating posts, reels, and stories on Instagram to keep the followers' engagement level high and deliver news related to vaccination. Step-by-step guides to vaccination are also shared from time to time. In less than a month, they have more than 500 followers on Instagram. They have also managed to get messages to support Covid vaccination from celebrities like Aparshakti Khurana, Chitrangda Singh, Wamiqa Gabbi, and Neeru Bajwa on their Instagram page. The group is working round the clock to spread the message to the general public. The team members are also penning educative blog posts to give the latest information about Covid vaccines and target vaccine hesitancy. In the future, the group plan to have more activities involving school children and marginalized sections of society to spread the message about Covid vaccines.
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