June 24, 2021 8:01:51 pm
AFTER HESITANCY, the district administration officials of Panchkula are now trying to tackle a new demon — rumours of the Covid-19 vaccine allegedly turning beneficiaries impotent that are prevalent both in rural areas and urban pockets.
“The district’s record of 18,724 vaccinations against a target of 19400 on last Monday, when the district observed Mega Vaccination Day, appears very good. But most of these shots were delivered in the urban areas. I am engaged in farming activity in Raipurrani block and have regular interactions with people from all strata of the society. My assessment is that we are still faced with large scale hesitancy due to misinformation about the vaccine. Many people I have interacted with fear that the vaccine might turn them impotent. A well-targeted awareness campaign is the need of the hour. Else, the vaccination pace will again slow down,” a healthcare worker informed the administration of Panchkula during a virtual meeting to address the issue of vaccine hesitancy on Thursday.
The district administration officials now are drawing up information, education and communication measures to commence awareness programmes on the ground as well as virtually via social media sites by the involvement of the local couples. The authorities have asked couples below the ages of 45, who have received both doses of the vaccine, to come forward, share their identities as well as stories “to remove the doubts in minds of the rural population that the vaccine in no way affects their conjugal relations,” says Dr Mankirat Kaur, in-charge of mobilisation of people for Covid-19 vaccination.
The district administration has planned on mobilising young couples to help with their campaign. “We want young couples to come forward, and help us dispel the myths surrounding the vaccine. All they need to do is send us pictures or upload them as their own Whatsapp status, write down that they are fully vaccinated, and that the shots haven’t had an adverse impact on their married lives. This small step can ensure the safety of so many others,” added Kaur.
Not just in rural areas, the issue of vaccine reluctance owing to the rumours of impotence has cropped up in urban areas of the district as well.
“Yes, we have had a few people from the urban areas as well who have told us that they were worried about the same issues. The vaccines are absolutely safe. People getting married and planning families need to be vaccinated for a safe future. If we are unable to vaccinate those between 18-45 by the time the third wave arrives, it will play out all very similar to the second Covid one. Children are not to be jabbed and a considerable population of those above the age of 45 have already been vaccinated. The ones in between need to be jabbed and quickly,” said Kaur.
While 100 per cent of the population above the age of 60 years in Panchkula have received the first dose of the vaccine, at least 75 per cent people above the age of 45, too, have been jabbed with dose 1. However, a mere 32 per cent of beneficiaries between the age of 18-45 years have got their first vaccine shots.
The district health department also plans on including its on-ground workers — including ASHAs and anganwadi workers — to go out and talk to people about the issue. “People believe their friends. However, the health care workers have a little more difficulty in gaining their trust,” said Dr Kaur.
“We want to vaccinate as many people as we can within July. Vaccination is the only way to protect and save us from Covid-19 at the moment,” she added.
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