Making Vaccinations A Joyous Carnival Movement

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Celebrate at supermarkets, pharmacies, churches, football fields, writes Rajendra Aneja

“So where will you enjoy the carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador or Curitiba? They are all fantastic,” exclaimed my excited secretary Angelica. I had just been transferred to Brazil. I did not know that Brazil waited the entire year, for the festivities in February. The carnival lasts officially for 10 days, for a month unofficially and for a full year in exuberant spirit. My first exposure to the Brazilian carnival in Salvador, taught me the role of music, dance, pleasure and regalia in invigorating the country. It also educated me on the importance of making any idea a mass movement to succeed.

The Carnival spirit permeates the launch of new products in Brazil. Every launch is a call for music, song and dance. In developing countries too, new product introductions are often accompanied by music and dance in the countryside.

Joyous Spirit: The world has been through a brutal nightmare in 2020 due to Covid-19. So, the launch of the vaccines across cities and villages, whilst being administered systematically, should also be a carnival. Happy days could return. Countries which are vaccinating their populations, should make the process and the centres cheerful.

People across the world are perpetually excited to meet famous movie stars, dancers and singers. In communities which are sluggish or reluctant to take the jabs, the presence of a movie star for the day, will enthuse people to take the jab. Imagine if Tom Cruise or Scarlett Johansson took the jabs at a community centre and stayed for the day, chatting with fans. It would draw out the most reluctant residents. In Africa and Latin America, music and dance can enliven vaccination centres and lure people.

Deploy Airports, Corporations: Most international airports have massive waiting areas. Due to the pandemic, most international flights are suspended. So, the free spaces can be used for vaccinations. Airports can play vibrant music on the public address systems, to enliven the vaccinations. Similarly, trains have been suspended or are running skeleton operations in many countries. Empty railway platforms can also be deployed for vaccinations.

The corporate sector can contribute in the vaccination endeavour, after the vaccines are freely available. They can inoculate their employees in the offices itself. Prizes or cash awards could be given to the first 10 percent of the employees who get vaccinated.

Many global events scheduled for 2020 like the Olympics in Japan, T-20 World Cup in Cricket, Expo-2020 in UAE, etc., had to be postponed due to the pandemic. After the host countries of these events are inoculated and the events proceed, there should be amplified revelries.

Mass Movement: Apart from joy, the dissemination of vaccines across countries has to become a mass movement to arrest the spread of the disease. Governments have to bond with the private sector. We need innovative thinking to vaccinate billions of citizens rapidly. We need to break a few conventions. Walgreens, the 5,000-chain pharmacies run by Walmart, has said it can deliver 10 to 12 million doses a month. These pharmacies have already inoculated a million Americans. Pharmacies can become vaccination centres. They can vaccinate through the nights.

London is experimenting with 24-hour vaccination, through the nights. Developing countries should follow this lead. In Las Vegas, a night club, Wynn Resorts, is administering 800 vaccinations daily, at its clinic, in partnership with the Nevada’s Medical University Centre. Microsoft and Starbucks are partnering to create command centres for monitoring the vaccine rollouts, through sharing technology and rollout models. UK is planning to deploy shopping malls, stadiums and even cathedrals to inoculate its citizens.

Religious Places: Commencing vaccinations at the Vatican will send a loud and clear message to the entire world. Vaccination centres should also be opened at mosques, across the world. In India, temples should become vaccination centres.

Latin America has some renowned football stadiums, including the Marcana in Rio de Janeiro, which can accommodate over 78,800 persons. These should be used to vaccinate neighbourhood communities. If there is any resistance to the vaccination, health authorities should rope in a prominent local soccer star and make him the role model, by inoculating him first.

The Manaus Opera House, built in 1892 in Manaus, the city most severely impacted by Covid-19 in Brazil, can also be arrayed for vaccinations. If India starts inoculations at the Taj Mahal, New York at the Statue of Liberty and London at Big Ben, imagine the message of determination that goes around the world. Every national monument, with open spaces, should be deployed to save lives. If not now, then when?

Pubs and Schools, too: Health authorities can even deploy large pubs and bars for vaccination. All hyper and supermarkets should have vaccination facilities. Five-star hotels can allocate some of their larger halls, for vaccinations.

In the villages of Asia and Africa, schools can be used for inoculating the local communities. Imagine gaily decorated “Vaccination Vans” playing music, accompanied by health workers, visiting clusters of villages to inoculate people as they enjoy a skit or a dance.

Israel has many lessons in the vaccination drive. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has led the vaccination from the front. He received the vaccines at the airports personally. He was amongst the first to take the jab. He framed his injection. He visited vaccination centres to enthuse the health workers and the vaccine recipients.

Celebrate Success: Inoculating 5 to 7.8 billion people in the world, within a year or so, is an epic task. Perhaps we can deploy music, dance and creativity to make the vaccinations an exuberant mass movement. When a village or town completes its targeted inoculations, a celebration should be declared for a day. The festivity should be accompanied by lights and crackers, to mark the milestone. Most people across the world have missed celebrating Christmas, Eid, Diwali and New Year in 2020. Brazil could have a mini-carnival, when it completes inoculating its entire population.

So, when a village, city or a nation inoculates all its citizens, it is time to light a candle or a cracker.

Aneja was the Managing Director of Unilever Tanzania. He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and the author of books entitled, “Rural Marketing across Countries and “Business Express”. He is a Management Consultant.

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In the villages of Asia and Africa, schools can be used for inoculating the local communities. Imagine gaily decorated ‘Vaccination Vans’ playing music, accompanied by health workers, visiting clusters of villages to inoculate people as they enjoy a skit or a dance