When India's COVID-19 vaccination drive for all adults began online registration had been compulsory for some. But with large swathes of the country still lacking internet or smartphone access, the policy had come under heavy criticism at the time. Now, officials have come up with a way to ensure that even the techologically challenged among us can have easy access to free COVID-19 vaccines.
If you know someone who does not have a smartphone or is not technology savvy in Mumbai, they can simply send an SMS to 9920634541. Following this, a help desk will guide them to a nearest registration centre and facilitate with their free vaccination.
Dr Richard Pereira, project coordinator, said, "We want to help those who are digitally illiterate or do not have the access to internet. We help them in registering for vaccination by using their mobile number and Aadhaar Card details." The teams also tries to arrange transportation for people to private or Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) vaccination centres.
Pereira said, "We aim to help anyone including the poor living on the streets, fruit and vegetable vendors, hawkers, security guards, domestic help, delivery personnel, stall owners, cleaners, migrants and daily labourers."
Fr Vincent Vaz who is part of the campaign said, "We have over 150 to 170 people per day who come for registration for vaccination. Our volunteers at the ground level help them to register and book slots. It is important to reach out to all sections of the society and not leave out the vulnerable especially when the entire vaccination slot booking process is online."
Over 795 people have been vaccinated till now under this campaign. Teams of volunteers are operating at different churches, centres and areas of Mumbai from June 20. These teams are conducting registration at Our Lady of Salvation Church, Dadar, Our Lady of Victory Church, Mahim, Sevadan centre near Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS), Chembur and by another team at Bandra. More teams are expected to start soon.