As some parts of the world begin to regain a semblance of normality after the Covid-19 outbreak, low and middle-income countries continue to battle against inadequate vaccine supply and vaccine hesitancy. In Pakistan, mass vaccination drives were organised by the Ismaili Council to increase immunity against Covid-19. The inoculation drives were led by a dedicated TKN taskforce comprised of health professionals, data scientists, designers, and volunteer stewards.

“The Council has taken a tremendous step with the Covid vaccination campaign,” said Naurin Shivji, a nurse working at one of the facilities. “TKN and other Jamati volunteers have played a critical role in managing this pandemic. Frontline workers helped the Council stay connected with families and provided mental health counselling, medical guidance, and support to those in need,” she added.

High risk groups were identified first based on the World Health Organization (WHO)'s recommended policy on prioritised vaccine allocation. Despite granting access to larger segments once the most vulnerable were immunised, apprehension and scepticism surrounding the Covid-19 vaccines prevented many from accepting the jab. As such, TKN volunteers were also involved in building public trust and addressing certain stigmas regarding immunisation.

According to TKN volunteer Salima Rajwani, “The entire campaign helped the Jamat handle the pandemic effectively. It is remarkable how perceptive our leadership is even in times as trying as a pandemic. We should thank them for their successful planning and rapid response.” Salima Rajwani has been involved with the vaccination programme since its inception.

In addition to the challenge of communicating the consequences of vaccine hesitancy, volunteers also have the massive logistical responsibility of administering the vaccines safely, transporting vials efficiently to different vaccination centres, and maintaining the cold chain essential for safe vaccine storage. While frontline workers were primarily involved in inoculation drives, artists creatively marketed the crucial importance of this major campaign in reducing Covid-19 prevalence, and data teams analysed vaccination trends within the community.

Dr Zeenat Arif Jumani had previously volunteered in Covid-19 patient management and was also involved in the mass vaccination campaign. She recalled how a patient approached her and expressed thanks for her service to humanity, “I was surprised at first. I wondered how a person I have never met came up to me to thank me. Later, she told me how I had helped her family recover. It is in moments like this when you understand the impact your service is creating.” Dedicated volunteers like Dr Jumani and her team have been central to the success of the campaign. Due to the inspiring efforts of 400 TKN and other volunteers, the Jamat was immunised at their neighbourhood vaccination camps.

As we cross the 18-month mark of the Covid-19 pandemic, a return to normality continues to elude the world at large. Nonetheless, the most effective way to restrict the spread of Covid-19 remains mass vaccination. Large-scale inoculation initiatives like this one are pivotal in the establishment of more resilient societies after the crisis. In a globally interdependent world, with a virus that keeps spreading and mutating, no one is safe until everyone is safe.