Rajasthan registers the second highest number of vaccinations in the country, driven by centres in close proximity to villages and awareness drives by ASHA workers. However, complaints of vaccine shortage have been coming in.
Till May 6, Rajasthan recorded a total of 11,167,216 people receiving the first shot of the vaccine and 2,430,151 people have been completely vaccinated.
Wearing a mask in Rajasthan’s scorching heat can get difficult. But, 25-year-old Pinki Kanwariya wears one diligently as she walks along the narrow bylanes of her village. With the second wave of COVID-19 wreaking havoc, Kanwariya has just one task on hand — convincing the villagers to get vaccinated.
Kanwariya is an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) at Sherpur village in Sawai Madhopur district, and she has been doing this work for more than a fortnight Thousands of ANMs and ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activists) such as Kanwariya have been a vital component of Rajasthan’s vaccination drive.
“The coming up of a vaccination facility at the swaasthya upkendra [sub-health centre] has been really good for the village. People are getting vaccinated without having to go to far-off primary health centres,” Kanwariya told Gaon Connection.
Kanwariya said more people from her village are now convinced about the benefits of getting vaccinated. “There have been five vaccination camps in the village so far, and more and more people between the ages of 45 and 60 and those above 60 are getting vaccinated,” she added.
The sarpanch (village head person) of Sherpur village concurred with Kanwariya. “We have two sub-health centres in our village. Both have the facility to vaccinate people. Almost fifty per cent of those above fifty years of age have been vaccinated. Initially, it was very difficult to bring people to the vaccination centres, but now more people are ready to be vaccinated,” 33-year old Om Prakash told Gaon Connection.
Prakash also informed that there have been 20 deaths in the village in the last 20-25 days, and all of them manifested symptoms of COVID-19.
Rajasthan’s vaccination drive has been successful — now, it has the second-highest number of people getting vaccinated, next only to Maharashtra.
Till May 6, Rajasthan recorded a total of 11,167,216 people receiving the first shot of the vaccine and 2,430,151 people have been completely vaccinated. The total vaccinations in the state stand at 13,597,367. In comparison, Maharashtra has recorded a total of 16,781,719 vaccinations.
Gujarat has recorded the third-highest number of vaccinations across India — 13,231,478 while Uttar Pradesh ranks fourth with 13,175,325 vaccinations.
Chhaya Pancholi from the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan — a non-profit that works in the field of public health, told Gaon Connection the rural penetration of Rajasthan’s vaccination drive has been successful.
“But I do believe that people still have doubts and inhibitions about getting vaccinated. The government’s initiative to organise vaccination at the village level has been a good move, but many are still not convinced about getting vaccinated,” Pancholi told Gaon Connection.
“More awareness drives need to be organised. People need to be convinced that vaccination is for their good,” Pancholi added.
Pancholi is of the opinion that along with setting up vaccination centres nearby villages, due attention should be paid towards services offered at these centres.
“ASHA workers are counselling people, but more people will be convinced if the influential people in the village such as the sarpanch, ward sarpanch, and religious leaders volunteer to make people aware. More people would believe them. The awareness drive should not be left just to ASHA workers,” Pancholi added.
However, there are complaints of vaccine shortage too. “Although vaccination drives have been organised well by the state government across Rajasthan, there is a shortage of vaccines,” Umesh Jhajadia, a resident of Rajasthan’s Suratgarh tehsil in Jhunjhunu district, told Gaon Connection.
Jhajhadia’s complaint finds validation in the statement of the chief medical officer (CMO) of Sirohi district in Rajasthan, which is 524 kilometres away from his native district.
“The vaccination camps are functioning, but sometimes we have to suspend them because of shortage of vaccines,” CMO Rajesh Kumar told Gaon Connection.
After repeated negotiations with the Centre, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had announced on April 26 that
the state government would provide free vaccinations for all people above 18 years of age.
“There are about 3.75 crore [37.5 million] people in the age group of 18 to 45 years in Rajasthan. The state government will spend Rs 3,000 crore on their vaccination,” Gehlot was quoted as saying. Orders were being placed with vaccine manufacturing companies, he added.
Rajasthan reported 17,532 new COVID-19 infections and 161 deaths as on May 6 . The death toll has surged to 5,182, while the state’s infection count has risen to 7,02,568.
Of these new infections, a maximum of 3,440 were reported from Jaipur and 2,301 from Jodhpur.