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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Pandemic Tales: Covid turnaround in scores of Jhansi villages as residents pitch in to get ‘100% vaccination tag’

Farmer who started the trend of adopting village for vaccination says he was inspired by PM’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’

Written by Asad Rehman | Lucknow |
Updated: August 27, 2021 4:18:33 pm
Nukkad naataks urge people to get vaccinated. (Express Photo)

Nearly three months ago when the Covid vaccination rate was slow in a Jhansi village as villagers were not keen to get inoculated, 38-year-old Amit Pandey, a local farmer, decided to turn things around. His inspiration was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ in which he had named a village from Kashmir where 100 per cent population was administered with at least one dose of Covid vaccines.

“I thought if a village in Kashmir can do it, then why can’t my village get all its people vaccinated,” said Pandey recalling the PM’s monthly radio speech.

“I then approached the district administration and told them that I would like to adopt my village and would ensure that vaccination is completed at the earliest. At that time, there was a lot of resistance towards the vaccines in the villages, and people were running away from getting vaccinated,” said Pandey, who is the director of Safal Kisaan Producer Company Ltd, a farmer producer organisation, in Jhansi’s Nauta village.

The district administration accepted Pandey’s request and he was given the responsibility to ensure vaccination of six neighbouring villages also.

Three months later, almost all the adults at Nauta village and the six neighbouring villages have been administered with at least one vaccine dose.

Encouraged by Pandey’s contribution, the Jhansi district administration decided to replicate the vaccination strategy in other villages too, and started handing over the responsibility to vaccinate people in villages to influential people, NGOs and private companies.

Today, the district has so far vaccinated over 90 per cent population of 127 villages in the district with at least one dose.

“After Pandey’s success, we got requests from NGOs, some private hospitals and individuals that they were willing to adopt villages and ensure completion of the vaccination process… Now, we have covered 127 villages where more than 90 per cent of adult people have been vaccinated with at least one dose. The remaining 10 per cent people in these villages have migrated to the cities. So, in a way, we have achieved 100 per cent vaccination with vaccines being administered with the help of local influential people, NGOs and private companies who have adopted five to 10 villages each,” said District Magistrate Andra Vamsi.

However, the path to achieving “100 per cent vaccination” has not been a smooth one.

“In June, there was a lot of resistance towards the vaccines. People were scared by rumours that it will leave them handicapped etc. We had to use different methods to get some people on board. One of our ways was to first vaccinate all senior and influential people in the village. Then, we asked them to encourage others. We also used some tough tactics to compel people to get vaccinated. I even threatened them that if they don’t get vaccinated, they will not get their ration from the fair price shops. We did not follow up on this and no one was stopped from getting their ration, but the threat and other factors worked. And by July 13, the whole village got vaccinated with at least one dose,” Nauta village head Shambu Patel told The Indian Express.

Now in Nauta village, which has a population of 4,523, close to 2,500 of the 2,713 adult population has received at least one dose of Covid vaccine.

Similarly, Father Johnson Francis, who is the director for Jhansi Catholic Sewa Samaj, adopted 10 villages in Bangra and Mauranipur blocks of the district. Here too, nearly 100 eligible population have been vaccinated with at least one dose. “We used different methods. We were sent some videos on WhatsApp that were meant to make people aware of the vaccine. We showed these videos to people and asked them to circulate on their WhatsApp groups,” said Father Francis.

Auxiliary nurse midwife Deepti Gautam, who is in charge of vaccination at Badagaon CHC, said that initially, the resistance to vaccines was quite high. “People used to hide in their houses after seeing the vaccination team, but once awareness was spread under the adoption programme, the resistance reduced and people came forward on their own. Another reason for this was that we took vaccines to the villages and hence, people were more willing to get it,” said Gautam.

DM Vamsi said that “nukkad naataks” were performed by local groups and its videos were shared. Also, door-to-door campaigns were done by those who adopted the villages, in coordination with the district administration.

“We have vaccinated more than 2 lakh people in the 27 villages where this programme was undertaken and 100 per cent partial vaccination has been achieved in all the villages. We hope to continue the programme so that vaccination coverage keeps increasing,” said Vamsi.

Till Thursday, over 7.86 lakh vaccine doses have been administered in Jhansi with 6.5 lakh people administered with one dose and 1.3 lakh with both the doses, according to Cowin dashboard. Notably, in August, the daily number of vaccine doses administered in rural areas of the district outnumber urban centres.

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