The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on our lives. While the war against COVID-19 is far from over, vaccines are proving to be a sliver of hope in these difficult times.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India started the COVID vaccination drive on March 1, 2021, and has vaccinated more than 15.6 crore people so far. However, to vaccinate the younger demographic, the country not only needs to increase the vaccine supply but has to ensure it reaches more people soon.
Stepping up its game during the crisis is MyVacc, a startup founded by Dr Sveta Agarwal, Amit Agarwal, and Prasun Bansal in December 2020.
The platform, which was basically started to vaccinate children at home, is now assisting Bengaluru’s civic body, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike(BBMP), during the second phase of the vaccination drive. According to the startup, it is carrying out the initiative for free of cost.
The vaccination camps were conducted in and around Bengaluru.
From vaccinating children to COVID vaccine
Bengaluru-based MyVacc was started to vaccinate children at the comfort of their home. Parents can visit the website and consult with the pediatrician to see what vaccination is needed for the child.
Apart from this, it also administers vaccines to adults, including cervical cancer vaccines, Hepatitis A and B, and flu vaccines, among others. The staff visit homes with a technician or a doctor who can help in case there are some side effects. According to the startup, it caters to all the routine mandatory vaccines that children need.
“We train nurses and doctors with respect to the vaccinations – how and where to administer them, and the precautions to ensure that pain is minimised,” says Sveta.
In 2021, when the COVID vaccination drive was started across India, MyVacc began assisting BBMP in administering vaccines through camps at different places in Bengaluru for free of cost.
One of the ambulances donated by Kerala Samajam
“Once the vaccines came out, we were in constant touch with the BBMP and offered to help them out in COVID-19 vaccinations,” says Prasun.
After the government announced that vaccination was open to people above the age of 45, BBMP contacted MyVacc to help administer the vaccines.
“So, based on the guidelines for the vaccination, we got an ambulance with the help of Kerala Samajam Charitable Society, Bengaluru, along with a doctor, a few nurses, and about three to four people to help people register on the CoWin app,” shares Prasun.
The BBMP has allocated certain micro-containment zones to MyVacc and is trying to control it at a micro-level. The team even launched a helpline number for any kind of side effects with respect to vaccines.
“Communities and corporates are helping us set up teams and camps around the city. Our members working on the ground have all been vaccinated,” Sveta shares.
The MyVacc team, in association with the BBMP, is now able to provide these vaccines for free in its camps. So far, MyVacc has conducted these camps in a number of areas in and around Bengaluru, including Basavanagudi, BTM Layout, Jakkasandra, Sarjapura, and Bellandur, among other places. These are done within communities including churches, schools, residential areas, slums, and others.
The team shares that it has been witnessing the participation of people from different walks of life in these camps, including cab drivers, vegetable and fruit vendors, and temple priests, who are most likely to spread the virus exponentially if tested positive.
One of the vaccination camps in Bengaluru.
“The biggest drive was conducted in Jigani, which is located at the outskirts of Bengaluru. We saw a number of farmers, cooks, and maids coming to get vaccinated as they travel to Bengaluru frequently for work,” Sveta says.
Apart from getting help from Kerala Samajam and Muthoot Finance, which also helped with an ambulance, MyVacc is primarily bootstrapped.
So far, it claims to have reached out to 2,400 people in Bengaluru and hopes to improve the numbers this month. It also plans to expand this drive to Mumbai and Pune in the coming days.
Challenges and the way forward
“One of the main challenges was bringing people together. If everybody comes to the camps, it saves a lot of time and resources,” says Sveta.
She says, earlier, there were more vaccines, but the demand was low. But now, the demand for vaccines has gone up, and unfortunately, there is a short supply of vaccines. Once we can procure more vaccines, then things will be much smoother, she adds.
“We plan to launch eight teams in Bengaluru. One team can vaccinate about 400 people in a day, but it completely depends on how many vaccines we receive. We plan to vaccinate about 3,000 people a day once we get the supply,” says Prasun.
The startup is also planning to vaccinate more cab drivers, delivery boys, and others who come in contact with people regularly, to contain the virus.
MyVacc currently has two ambulances, two doctors, six nurses, and about 15 staff members as part of its two teams. This will be scaled to about eight teams in the coming days.
As coronavirus cases in India are reaching new peaks in the second wave, many other startups are also working on such COVID-19 initiatives. Startups like Portea and Pharmeasy are looking to start their own COVID-19 vaccination drives this month. Other healthtech startups like mFine and 1mg have also enabled vaccine registrations for people above the age of 45.