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Amid high vaccine hesitancy, PCMC to launch vaccination drive in Khandevasti slum on Monday

Khandevasti, which has nearly 3,000 residents, is one of the four big slum clusters in Savale’s ward where vaccination penetration has been low.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: June 27, 2021 7:52:56 am
PCMC, Pimpri Chinchwad vaccination, Pune vaccination, Covid-19 vaccination, Vaccination in slum, Pune covid update, Pune covid-19 news, pune news, pune latest news, pune today news, pune local news, new pune news, latest pune newsMunicipal Commissioner Rajesh Patil said, "We are going ahead with the policy....It was approved in the general body meeting." (File photo)

A medical team of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) will embark on a pilot project that will provide vaccination against Covid-19 for residents of the Khandevasti slum of Indrayani Nagar from Monday. Corporator Seema Savale, former chairperson of the civic standing committee, said the pilot programme was aimed at removing vaccine hesitancy and increasing vaccination percentage in slum areas.

Khandevasti, which has nearly 3,000 residents, is one of the four big slum clusters in Savale’s ward where vaccination penetration has been low. Only around 750 people have been vaccinated so far as vaccine hesitancy runs high.

“Unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy is high in the slums. Rumours of people dying because of the vaccine prevents many from approaching the vaccination centres,” said Savale. This situation stems from people preferring to believe in local myths and godmen rather than doctors or staff of the civic body, she said.

Since the time the vaccination drive started, Savale and other members of the civic body have been trying to convince local residents to get vaccinated. “It’s not just the question of Covid-19 vaccines, we have observed the same scenario in case of other medical conditions. For example, pregnant women wait till the end moment to go for their delivery. The ongoing pandemic has increased the challenge,” she said.

Most residents of these areas are highly mobile as they are daily wage earners and chances of them picking up the virus and spreading it to others were extremely high, said Savale. She said said she has visited to the slums repeatedly to assuage fears of the residents after she had taken the vaccine herself, but the response was lukewarm at best.

With experts warning of a possible third wave of coronavirus infections, Savale said the special programme will see the civic body camping in the slums and going door-to-door to inoculate people. “We feel some sort of positive pressure tactic has to be used to push people for vaccination. We will try to make a list of people who are refusing to take the vaccine and share the same with their workplace and the ration shop owner. In case of autorickshaw drivers, we will share the list with the Regional Transport Office,” she said.

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Dr Shailaja Bhavsar, senior medical officer of PCMC and in-charge of Bhosari, said the civic staff will set up a makeshift camp at Khandevasti on Monday morning and local residents can get inoculated at the site. “We plan to vaccinate at least 300 people on the first day and if we get enough vials, we will increase the number to 500. This is a pilot run of the programme and it will be scaled up in other areas of the corporation,” she said.

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