Vaccination Registration: They create a CoWin-win situation for the not-so-tech-savvy


As covid-19 locked us inside our safe zones, some noble souls stepped out to help the city and its citizens

Getting an appointment for one’s covid vaccination through the Co-WIN site is like a game of Fastest Finger First. No matter when you login in, you’re bound to find NA (Not Available) against dates from now till Christmas. Knowing how difficult the process is for those who are not technologically savvy, three Bengalureans have been volunteering to book appointments for those who don’t know how to work the site. They call themselves Helpmehere_offi.

In the last few weeks, the team has booked slots for more than 200 people from Jammu to Ernakulam.

Suhas Shetty, who works as an Assistant Professor in a private college, told Bangalore Mirror about the initiative. “We started this initiative in the first week of May when even the tech-savvy citizens of Bengaluru were finding it extremely hard to book a slot on the site. We thought if this is the situation with tech-savvy people, how hard it must be for those from Tier-two and Tier-three cities,” he said.

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He said that those who need their help reach them via their Twitter handle (@helpmehere_offi) and then they get the person’s details to book a slot. Recently a woman from Ernakulam reached out to Shetty. Her husband had lost his job and the woman couldn’t go to work as her company insisted on employees being vaccinated before coming to work. In another case, a doctor from Jammu who had got vaccinated under the health care workers’ quota could not book a vaccine slot for his sister. “We had two senior citizens from Bengaluru who had got their first dose of Covaxin but were unable to get their second dose. We managed to get them slots,” said Saraswathi Anand, a media professional, who is also part of the team.

Deepak Leelavinothan, who works as a project manager in a tech firm, said, the availability of limited slots makes it a Herculean task and people almost give up. “Some small hacks can help book a slot, but people are put off by the time and effort it takes to do something so simple. There are a large number of people who also wonder why the slots never seem to be available though there are reports that the State has sufficient stocks of vaccine. As a tech enthusiast, I felt what is the use of technology is if it can’t help save lives?” he said. Saraswathi said that it would really help if Co-WIN were made available in multiple languages. She said for smaller districts, Co-WIN should be available as a telephonic slot booking service too. Currently, the erratic slot release timings makes it difficult for people who end up waiting for days for a slot to open up. And that too without any luck. “People should be able to book slots easily. Our group came into existence because certain hurdles exist in the process.

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Although we are proud of what we do, we feel the vaccine availability should’ve been at par with polio vaccination drives, so that groups like us don’t have to exist. Vaccination hesitancy is quite rampant, and we are spending several hours every day trying to fight this. Vaccines are causing a dent in people’s wallets too. The government should double up its efforts to create awareness among the blue collar workers and also explore providing incentives to encourage them to get vaccinated. That’s a great way to ensure that the core workforce of the nation is fully vaccinated,” said Leelavinothan.

The whole mantra is that nobody is safe until all of us are safe. Hence, we need to vaccinate as many people as possible

– Saraswathi Anand, a member of Helpmehere_offi

Shetty said that as they get several requests in a day, they try to educate the people who call and provide tips. “We have also spoken to legal experts and tell our callers that this is a free service. We also get their informed consent before we start helping them. We have a policy of not storing any personal information of the beneficiary. We clear our drives periodically, every day.

We have also encouraged people to motivate others around them to get vaccinated so that we become a safe country. The whole mantra is nobody is safe until all of us are safe. Hence, we need to vaccinate as many people as possible,” said Saraswathi.



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Sagar Biswas

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