Tribune News Service
Amritsar, June 16
The slow pace of Covid-19 vaccine supply and hesitation among residents may take its toll on the government’s target of getting its citizen immunity from the pandemic.
According to Dr Amarjit Singh, Assistant Civil Surgeon, the implementation of the vaccination programme was being hampered, especially in rural areas.
The Health Department in the district has come up with a novel idea to achieve its vaccination targets — using religious institutions and heads of the villages to convince people to go in for their shots.
Also, the mobile vaccination units were being constituted with the assistance of Accredited Social Health Activists (or ASHAs) which could provide doorstep service in the rural belt.
Dr Amarjit said the supply was irregular. From January 16, 2021, approximately 4.01 lakh people could be vaccinated in Amritsar, including over 3.27 lakh were administered the first dose and around 74,000 the second dose.
Taking into account the estimated ‘to be vaccinated’ beneficiaries of Amritsar (between the age group of 18-44 years and 45 above categories), nearly 16 lakh have to be vaccinated so far. “Around 50 per cent of 45 plus age group have been administered the first dose and only 12 per cent between 18 and 44 age group could be vaccinated till date,” he said.
Mangal Singh, proprietor of St Soldier School in Jandiala, viewed that there was a communication gap between the Health Department and the beneficiaries, as no prior intimation was being provided about the availability of the vaccination.
There are 21 Covid Vaccination Centres (CVCs) in the urban areas and around 186 in rural areas.
SMO Dr Santosh Kumari, who looks after the rural border belt Ramdass, told that around 65,000 persons who fall in the eligible categories were to be vaccinated in the 30 centres, but till date only 18,000 to 19,000 have been covered.
At Lopoke, SMO Dr Alok Narayan said the vaccination drive was undertaken in 47 centres. Against 2 lakh of eligible beneficiaries of the area, only 16,000 have been vaccinated till date, including 13,000 (between 18 and 44 years) and 3,000 (45 years and above).
Illiteracy, superstition a deterrent
- Rattan Singh Randhawa, a farmer from the border area, blamed illiteracy and superstitious beliefs to be a deterrent. “People come to illogical conclusions on their own. Some believe that the vaccine will make them ‘impotent’. They run away from Covid-19 sampling out of fear that if they test positive, death is certain and their organs would be taken out,” he said.
- Arjan Singh, sarpanch of Hoshiarpur Nagar village, near the India-Pakistan border, got himself, his son and daughter-in-law vaccinated with a view that it would encourage others to go in for the same, but in vain. “Yet, I believe that the voice of ‘granthi’, ‘maulvi’ and priest may work as their voice is considered as the voice of God. Otherwise the irrelevant concocted stories of missing organs from the bodies and never to return Covid patients, influence them the most,” he said.
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