Health workers in Chittoor district are having a tough time in vaccinating the population in rural pockets as some, particularly women farmers and farm workers, are hesitant to take the COVID-19 jab.
According to officials, the first dose of COVID vaccine was administered to more than 95% of the targeted age group of above 45 in the district. The remaining 5% is reportedly unwilling to take the vaccine for “unclear reasons”, which some perceive as “fear of side-effects.”
With reports of the third wave rearing its head around September coming in and with many in the elderly age group yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine, the health staff in the district is a worried lot.
Officials said that after completing 95% of the first jab target, they were in an upbeat mood thinking that the rest would be done in a matter of a day or two. But much to their dismay, they found convincing some villagers to get themselves vaccinated extremely difficult. The health workers say they had to pay repeated visits to houses of such villagers for the purpose.
“I had visited a household in Pichatur mandal to administer the vaccine shot to some persons aged above 60. But, I was told that they did not want to take the jab. Their hesitancy makes our job difficult. Along with my team, I pursued after them and found them at a farmland. It took half-an-hour to convince and vaccinate them,” an Asha worker said.
In another incident, a 65-year-old woman farmer of Nagalapuram mandal had tried her level best to shun the paramedical staff. “My neighbour fell sick for three days after taking the COVID jab,” the woman said. She was later administered the jab after much struggle.
“Though the vaccines are safe, we can’t take chances with those who feel nervous. We can only request those who missed the jabs to visit the PHCs voluntarily and cooperate with us,” District Immunization Officer C. Hanumantha Rao said.
Deputy District Medical and Health Officer (Deputy DMHO) P. Ravi Raju, who inspected the rural areas in Nagari, Narayanavanam and Karveti Nagaram mandals, urged the villagers to voluntarily come to the primary health centres and community centres to receive the jab.
“Though we have initiated giving jabs in the fields and work stations, this is not methodical as those who take the first dose should be under observation for at least a few minutes and in case of any side effects, they need to be attended to by doctors immediately,” he said.