In a few villages of Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh, the inhabitants are sanguine as they await their turn for the COVID-19 vaccine. They believe everyone should be vaccinated.
Achalganj, Unnao (Uttar Pradesh).
Rameshwar, a farmer, sat on his cot twisting a rope to tether his cattle. The 43-year old lives off his one and a half acres of land at Balau Kheda village of Unnao district, in Uttar Pradesh, and seems unaware about the recent excitement, when less than two kms away from his village, nearly 200 health workers were vaccinated against COVID-19, on January 22. Some of these health workers will eventually be visiting him to vaccinate him as well.
“We are better equipped now to set any fears about the vaccination at rest, in case any villagers may have them,” Anita Kushwaha, ASHA Sangini told Gaon Connection, after she got her shot at the Achalganj Community Health Centre. “When we will be administering the vaccination to the villagers in the next phase, we will be able to reassure them by telling them that we were also vaccinated and are safe,” she added. ASHA workers, ANMs and Anganwadi workers, were vaccinated at the Achalganj Community Centre on that day.
They will soon be visiting villages and persuading villagers like Rameshwar to get vaccinated. Unnao district with its population of nearly 31 lakhs is close to Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh. About 70 per cent of the district falls in the rural area.
While the vaccination campaign was started on January 16 across the country, there were reservations in some quarters about the efficacy of the two indigenous vaccines, Covisheild and Covaxin. The safety and effectiveness of the latter vaccine, was questioned in absence of the data from its clinical trials. Adding to apprehensions were reports of the death of nine health workers after they were vaccinated. However, the government clarified that these deaths had nothing to do with the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a first survey of its kind, Gaon Connection Insights, the data and insights arm of India’s biggest rural media platform Gaon Connection, asked rural Indians about what they thought about the coronavirus vaccine and if they had any fears and apprehensions about the same. Results of the survey titled The Rural Report 3: COVID-19 Vaccine and Rural India are available in full for a free download on www.ruraldata.in.
Meanwhile, there were no visible signs of apprehension in Rameshwar or any of the other villagers that Gaon Connection spoke to. “Although I do not have COVID-19, I will take the vaccination, if the entire village agrees to do so,” Rameshwar told Gaon Connection.
Gaurilal, a fellow villager said, “Right at the start, some COVID-19 cases were found in our village but they were cured and there were no further cases.” Like Rameshwar, Gaurilal was quite sanguine about the possibility of getting vaccinated. “There has been no COVID-19 case in my family so far, but if any of us shows any symptoms and is asked to be vaccinated, we would not hesitate to take it,” he said.
“I believe that COVID-19 vaccine should be taken by all people,” declared Ramesh, a shopkeeper at Balau Kheda. “There is no fear about the vaccination in our village. On the contrary, people are hoping to get vaccinated soon,” he said.
Five kilometres away from the Achalganj Community Health Centre, Unnao, is Daulatpur. “The huge gatherings at the recent weddings in the village, shows that people have become complacent” Ankit Yadav, a school teacher from there, told Gaon Connection. In his opinion, everyone must be vaccinated. Pammi from Barha village was in full agreement with him as she said, “If a disease is on the rise, its vaccine must be taken by all the villagers.”
“A total of 746 health workers are to be vaccinated in the first phase at Achalganj and we aim to vaccinate 100 health workers at each vaccination centre every day. We have currently set up two vaccination centres in the CHC and will set up three vaccination centres for the vaccination drive to be held on 28th and 29th January,” Brijesh Kumar, the medical superintendent at Achalganj CHC informed Gaon Connection.
“We are yet to receive instructions about the COVID-19 vaccinations for the common public. Once we do, we will make full arrangements to go ahead with the vaccinations,” he said.
Reporting assistance: Sumit Yadav