Mumbai: Since March, social activist and businessman from Kandivali, Sanjay Jaiswal (36), has been doing everything possible to get people vaccinated. He started his work in March when the government announced vaccination for senior citizens above 60 years. And in these many months, thanks to his efforts, more than 10,000 people from the north-western suburbs of Malad, Kandivali and Borivali have received the Covid jab.
“I still remember some elderly uncles and aunts blessing me as they said that even their own children weren’t so forthcoming in getting them vaccinated. Although I felt happy listening to them, I felt sad too,” said Jaiswal, who started approaching senior citizen groups in and around his area. This was the time when people were still apprehensive about getting vaccinated.
He started calling his friends from different housing societies and sought details about senior citizens. He also spoke to local doctors from whom he got to know that the vaccination drives happening at Dahisar Jumbo Covid Center and at Nesco, Goregaon were receiving poor response.
“I went and spoke to the doctors there, seeking guidance. They were eager to allow slots for senior citizens. That is when I approached our MLA, Atul Bhatkalkarji, for helping in ferrying these senior citizens,” added Jaiswal. Later, he approached local travel agencies for providing buses, and Bhatkalkar provided the funds for the same.
He ferried at least 100 senior citizens from Kandivali and Borivali areas to Dahisar Covid Jumbo Center every day for the next few days. There was capacity for a couple of thousands but due to paucity in demand, Jaiswal managed to get morning slots for two hours for the senior citizens. He faced challenges as there were few who couldn’t walk and wheelchairs had to be arranged from housing societies to the pick-up point. Then there were some who complained that their children were busy office meetings amid the ‘work from home’ culture.
By mid-April, the age group of 45-60 were also allowed to get vaccinated. Initially, he was coordinating with housing societies, but gradually with the shortage of vaccines beginning to arise, there wasn’t much he could do. Then, when vaccination for the 18-44 years age group was announced, he was approached by parents of children who were going abroad.
Earlier last month, he faced issues when news of fake vaccination drives cropped up. “We had made arrangements for 2000 plus doses in the first week of June but when news of fake vaccines broke, the demand dropped considerably. I was getting calls asking if the vaccines being provided was genuine and whether certificates will be issued,” added Jaiswal. Yet, till June he managed to get 10,000 people vaccinated.