(February 1, 2022) “Routine vaccines are not just for children but adults too,” says vaccine activist Dr Sveta Agarwal, whose initiative is present across various cities in India, reaching out with doorstep vaccination, and underprivileged vaccination, apt in the time of Covid 19. CEO and director, MyVacc, Agarwal is relentless in spreading awareness about adult vaccine cards and routine vaccinations. Today, the organisation boasts 50,000 vaccines to corporates, 5,000 to children at home and 1,00,000 for underprivileged across the country.
“Only 65 percent of children in India receive full immunisation during the first year of their life. 1.5 million deaths occur from vaccine-preventable diseases. 17 million children did not receive a single vaccine during the year. – UNICEF India
A larger purpose was set early on in life
Born in a family of entrepreneurs, Dr Sveta Agarwal studied MBBS from (1993-1998) from DY Patil Medical College (Mumbai) with a specialisation in paediatrics from Grant Medical College (Mumbai). She later did an online one-year paediatric nutrition course at Boston University.
Though the family’s business was in the manufacture of steel and alloy steel, Sveta charted a different plan for herself. While her father is no more, her mother and three siblings formed the foundation early on to give Sweta the wings to fly. The vaccine activist’s mission was to create social impact, a seed that had been germinating since 1994-95 – when she was working for the Indian polio immunisation programme as a young idealist girl.
Metropolitans and remote terrains – the focus is everywhere
Growing up in glitzy Mumbai, firmly focused on the needs of people across regions and strata, she went beyond the call of duty. Her organisation MyVacc provides home vaccination services to children and adults, and Sweta is involved in remarkable CSR activities – vaccinating slum dwellers, and labourers of Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Delhi and even tribal areas of Karnataka. Sweta also played a significant role in the government immunisation programme in Karnataka and Maharashtra. “Taking positive action towards health,” is something the vaccine activist believes in implicitly. Today, MyVacc operates in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chennai, with plans to expand afoot.
Vaccine activist spreads awareness, one step at a time
“People do not know that there are many vaccines available that can prevent diseases – an influenza vaccine prevents recurrent flu illnesses in patients with diabetes, asthma, etc. We have distributed more than 50,000 plus adult vaccination cards to create awareness. We want to create a culture in India where hospitalisation costs are reduced, and the productivity quotient of the nation is improved. Adults are administered according to their requirements, unlike children where a standard protocol is followed,” stresses Dr Sveta in an interview with Global Indian.
Home vaccinations are a boon for children: Vaccine activist says
The doctor is playing a pivotal role in boosting the immunity of society, with a motto to deliver affordable vaccines without the inconvenience of visiting hospitals. Today, MyVacc, which started in 2020, comprises dedicated team members making vaccination at home possible. Their motto is to, “Help the planet live longer healthier lives.” “With vaccination, the lives of millions of children have been saved, millions have the chance of a longer healthier life, a greater chance to learn, to play, to read and write, to move around freely without suffering,” adds the vaccine activist.
Addressing the dire need for safety protocols during the pandemic, she feels many have been delaying regular vaccinations for children to stay safe. “With home vaccination services for children, routine vaccination is not a big risk anymore. Productive hours of the parents are saved, and they have readily accepted MyVacc’s model,” explains the working mother, whose efforts led to the organic growth of her organisation. A nurse, doctor and ambulance are offered at the doorstep to vaccinate toddlers today in various cities.
Changing mindsets for reducing mortality
“My fight is against vaccine-preventable diseases,” says the torchbearer of vaccinations who believes that while the government is doing its job for society, initiatives like MyVacc go a long way in reducing mortality rates. “I started my organisation at the time of hesitancy towards a Covid vaccine. We have been able to spread awareness and allay the fear of side effects. The government has been a great support in providing free vaccines for the poor that we have administered. Some corporate houses have donated one vaccine for each paid vaccine administered to their employees. We have been approaching vaccine manufacturers for tie-ups with us so that vaccination becomes affordable for most. Good gestures from all quarters have helped us so far and would further help us to reach different segments of society,” says the vaccine activist with optimism.
Self-education is important
A great believer in the power of education, Dr Sveta adds, “We are not just educating the uneducated but the educated as well so that they do not get influenced by anti-vaxxers. As far as Covid vaccines are concerned, by now the majority have understood that there are no side effects,” assures the doctor whose husband, incidentally, is an orthopaedic doctor.
The mother of a son in class 9 is busy on most days, juggling the responsibility of spreading the word of vaccines, and giving her son a role model to emulate. Her son, incidentally, is a golf champ, and as a proud mother, she often posts on his achievements. The now Bengalurean takes every opportunity to spread the word of health. When not busy doing that, a love for travel, skiing and family time is what rejuvenates this paeditrician and vaccine activist.
As Dr Sveta aspires to drive home the point of routine vaccines for preventable diseases in both children and adults, the pandemic and its aftermath is very much on her mind to take India’s health forward.