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Saturday, June 19, 2021

COVID Vaccination: Kolhapur hits a milestone, with a little help from loudspeakers, WhatsApp

As of May 2, the district had a vaccination rate of 59.7 percent, double the state average of 29.1 per cent.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
May 8, 2021 5:24:26 am
People line up for the coronavirus vaccine in Mumbai. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool, File)

Usage of loudspeakers to bust myths surrounding the vaccine, circulating photographs of inoculated persons among villagers, dedicated vehicles to ferry senior citizens to vaccination centres – all these along with a few other measures employed by the administration in Kolhapur have ensured the Western Maharashtra district leads the state in the number of Covid-19 vaccinations in the 45+ age group.

As of May 2, the district had a vaccination rate of 59.7 percent, double the state average of 29.1 per cent. On Friday, the number of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine reached the 10-lakh mark in the district which has an estimated 12.73 lakh people aged above 45.

The milestone is not purely due to chance — A concerted effort was made across Kolhapur city as well as rural areas to ensure maximum number of eligible citizens were vaccinated since the programme began in January, said district officials.

An official said that after initial apprehensions about vaccination were seen among some people, the district administration decided to reach out to create awareness among citizens through various means. In villages, loudspeakers used for public announcements were deployed to bust myths, photographs of those who were inoculated were circulated by gram sabha members to allay concerns and instill confidence, and vehicles were arranged at taluka and village level to ferry senior citizens to vaccination centres.

“There was a coordinated effort at each level of the district administration. We formed WhatsApp groups to relay information about the availability of vaccines, assigning roles to each official including aganwadi workers, teachers, panchayat officials and corporators to ensure that those eligible were registered and came to their nearest centre to get vaccinated,” said a district official.

The numbers, however, dipped for the second dose as unavailability of the vaccine rendered many centres shut for a few days despite enthusiasm among people.

“Even during the first wave, residents in many villages in the district had themselves taken precautions, including following local restrictions, to control the spread of Covid-19. The higher participation in the vaccination process is all due to the will of the people here,” an official said.

People continue to inquire with the district administration about the availability of the vaccine, some have to be turned away due to insufficient stock, he added.

Of late, the district has seen a surge in cases due to which increased restrictions have been imposed. Kolhapur, currently, has over 12,000 active cases.

“We are now focusing on bringing the number of infections down,” an official said.

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