Updated: Jun 27, 2021
COVID-19 positive cases are on the rise once again in India, and an efficient vaccination drive has become seriously essential. Currently, the government is in the third phase of its vaccination drive and has approved shot administration for all citizens above the age of 45.
At private hospitals, one COVID-19 vaccine shot costs Rs. 249 to 450, whereas government hospitals are offering it for free. There are two types of vaccines that have been given approval in India – Covaxin and Covishield. In order to find the nearest vaccination center, eligible citizens can head to the CoWIN portal or the MapMyIndia online site.
How People are helping each other in these difficult times to fight the battle?
As India fights the second wave of COVID-19, hospital beds, oxygen supplies, blood plasma, and medicines are running scarce. So, several people are taking to social media by posting urgent requirements on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Users are flooding these platforms with appeals for urgent needs through posts, retweets, shares, and story uploads to help distressed citizens in several cities across the country.
"Urgent bed required for a 71-year-old patient who has a lung infection and low oxygen level," said one Instagram user. The patient was able to access a hospital bed within four hours of circulating the message on social media, according to a subsequent update from the user.
Many other users have also taken to social media to commend the solidarity among citizens. "I was able to provide important helpline numbers for remdesivir to my father's colleagues based in Kolkata from Twitter. My biggest thanks to the people providing valuable information here," said another user on Twitter.
Not just users but hospitals and healthcare workers have used the platforms to make their voices heard. "In these times of uncertainty and fear what helps is the power of communication.. let's open all channels of communication to reach out to teams, colleagues, families, our friends.." Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director at Apollo Hospitals Group, tweeted.
Reddy also urged for government intervention when the movement of oxygen cylinders was halted in Haryana.
Online presence is helping spread the word quickly and easily, said Adwitiya Mal, co-founder of Dhoondh, a not-for-profit organization that connects blood plasma donors with patients.
Mal decided to start the initiative via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, alongside a separate website.
Delhi-based Dhoondh receives over a thousand patient inquiries daily via social media platforms, direct messages, and the website, a 75% jump from the June to November period last year. The surge prompted the founders to outsource their social media handles to professionals as requests soared. Instagram has proved to be the most helpful among all social media platforms to reach users in need, Mal told The Hindu.
The organization uses an algorithm on its website to match patients with suitable plasma donors. Dhoondh aims to fully automate the process, according to co-founder Mukul Pahwa, who handles the website’s technicalities from his residence in London.
The story is similar to Mumbai-based HelpNow, an emergency ambulance service company started by three engineering students. Instagram and Twitter users have helped spread awareness of the service on those platforms in the past year.
Last week, Instagram reposts by users, along with Bollywood celebrities like Sonam Kapoor and Vaani Kapoor, helped push daily inquiries to over 600, according to Shikhar Agrawal, co-founder of HelpNow.
Users on the social networking platforms have also helped garner international attention, with people from Hong Kong, Sweden, and Dubai offering support to the organization, both monetarily and in kind. HelpNow will soon integrate Twitter’s bot system into its account to help with quick replies.
However, the spread of misinformation remains a challenge. Many documents which are being circulated contain outdated contact details. Several users are also requesting high-profile accounts to share resources only after personally verifying the authenticity. "Please verify the sources/numbers before you post them in any thread or share them. It’s incredibly harrowing to call up number after number only for them to be out of service, unavailable or switched off, and just ends up increasing the burden of the patient," a user said in a tweet.
Moreover, myths surrounding processes like plasma therapy and the use of remdesivir are also rampant online.
How to find the nearest Covid-19 vaccination center?
Head to cowin.gov.in. visit the home page and find out the section Find Your Nearest Vaccination Center.
India's map is embedded in this section and you can scroll into your region to see the vaccination centers there.
For a more refined search, tap on the current location in the tab placed next to the map and press Go. You could also enter your pin code to get all the vaccination centers in that area.
The list has got the name of the vaccination centers around you. It gives you the full address of the center and has a Get Direction button that opens up directions on how to get there on the MapMyIndia portal.
You can also visit the MapmyIndia web portal or download the MapmyIndia Move app.
first, you'll have to register to get access to all the features on the site. After logging in, enter your address or eloc of interest. eLoc is the 6-character digital address for any place across India — a precise pin code representing the doorstep of any place.
Click on the Vaccination Centres option in the left menu. The platform will offer a list of options nearby and its distance from your location. The addresses are pinned on the map with an injection logo, depicting that it is a registered vaccine center.
What's the Role of Covaxin and Covidshield in India for Vaccination Drive?
Covaxin and Covishield are being used in India as part of the recent vaccination drive. Covaxin has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology. On the other side, Covidshield has been developed by the Oxford-AstraZeneca and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). To find the nearest COVID-19 vaccination center, users can either head to the CoWIN portal or the MapMyIndia site.
What are the different Social Media handles and Websites for Covid Update?
Social media handles are full of updates by users asking for help due to COVID-19, but it has also brought out the best in people as many others have started to post links to assist people to find medicines, and info in these tough times. The unprecedented surge has placed tremendous strain on healthcare services and resources across the country. As patients scramble for lack of hospital beds and medicines, several organizations and social media users are curating essential information relating to blood banks, oxygen cylinder suppliers as well as a list of available hospitals in a location.
To make it easier for people to find help, we have curated a list of social media handles that could prove helpful to those in need.
This Government of India website will give you an exhaustive list of details ranging from the guidelines for vaccination to the stories of how people have battled and defeated the disease in the past. In terms of information, the website has the list of helpline numbers for all states and Union Territories as well as caseload specifics. There is also a live helpdesk in case of any doubts. All information regarding curfew and lockdowns across states can be accessed here.
This website is a one-stop site for details of all the resources you may need access to in case you or someone you know is battling COVID-19. This includes details of hospital beds, plasma or blood banks, ambulance, equipment, testing centers, food, and emergency services as well as medicine and oxygen availability. You can look up any detail you need and add verified information that you have found. You can also volunteer your time to add information from your city or town. There is also a list of official government links of some states on the site.
This app created by a Twitter user who goes by the handle @dakuwithchaku gives you a comprehensive look at the availability of resources across cities. With subcategories such as plasma, food, oxygen, hospital beds, and ambulance, you can browse through your requirement and it will lead to the related data. The same user has also shared the data on a Google spreadsheet.
TII Covid Resources
This Instagram account is also working towards collating details regarding COVID-19 resources. Similarly, another handle, Pandemic Relief List India on Instagram, has also begun to collate data. In their first Instagram post, they wrote, “We understand that there's a huge burden on the healthcare infrastructure and everyone is in need but try and avoid DMing us requests/SOS calls (for now) as the load on DMs is already heavy and the information we compile should help with the emergency ideally”.
Ready To Fight COVID
Pharma giant Dr. Reddy's Laboratories has launched an official website dedicated to information regarding the availability of Remdesivir. The readytofightcovid website lists all hospitals and pharmacies in cities across India that stock the drug, along with their details.
It also has a 24/7 helpline number, 1800-266-708, that one can dial for all doubts related to COVID-19 medication.
These are just some of the accounts that have been sharing information about COVID and helping with relief. Many celebrities and social media influencers, including Masaba Gupta and Kusha Kapila, have also been updating their social media accounts with pieces of information on COVID-19.
There are also some families who are suffering from Covid and in these tough times, they have been provided with free Lunch and Dinner to all especially in the Delhi area. Those who are in need of food or anything else, are being offered that on the daily basis.
All the facts mentioned above have proved that where the government machinery failed, India's youth harnessed the power of social media to enable their fellow countrymen to access critical healthcare and survive.