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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Pune: Battling vaccine hesitancy, ‘door-to-door’ vaccination camp takes off at Khandewasti

The figure may not be a milestone but a big deal for Khandewasti, a slum area at the epicenter of an important experiment, which aims to remove vaccine hesitancy among inhabitants.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: June 29, 2021 9:07:13 am
Pune: Battling vaccine hesitancy, ‘door-to-door’ vaccination camp takes off at KhandewastiPCMC corporator Seema Savale (in white) and Dr Shailaja Bhavsar (in black) at the special camp organised at Khandevasti.

After an entire week spent in raising awareness among residents, authorities were hopeful of a decent turnout at the vaccination camp at Khandewasti. However, when the drive kicked off on Monday, senior corporator Seema Savale and Dr Shailaja Bhavsar, incharge of Bhosari’s civic hospital, were disappointed to see barely 30 to 40 people turning up in four hours.

Not in the mood to get the efforts go to waste, the duo decided to go to the houses of the locals, along with a few police officials, and convince the locals.

Pune: Battling vaccine hesitancy, ‘door-to-door’ vaccination camp takes off at Khandewasti The success of vaccination plan at Khandewasti is also crucial for another reason: it will pave the way for similar camps in other areas.

The motley group was welcomed in some homes, resisted in a few others and was generally viewed with suspicion and hesitation. But by the end of the day, the team managed to get 200 people vaccinated.

The figure may not be a milestone but a big deal for Khandewasti, a slum area at the epicenter of an important experiment, which aims to remove vaccine hesitancy among inhabitants.

Savale, also the former standing committee chairman of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), said hesitancy in slum areas is much more than housing societies because of which the civic body is having a tough time increasing vaccination numbers in these areas.

The success of vaccination plan at Khandewasti is also crucial for another reason: it will pave the way for similar camps in other areas.

For most of last week, the corporation had carried out door-to-door campaign to urge people to get their doses. The PMC had also roped in a loudspeaker-equipped autorickshaw to raise awareness among residents. But Savale knows the task is not going to be an easy one.

“This would not be very easy. People have unfounded fear of the vaccine, rumours run rife,” said Savale. While many had lined up in the camp, quite a few did not even take their shots.

Savale said her team would have to put “positive pressure” on the people to urge them to get their shots. “These are people who have to move around for their daily bread. Thus they are most at risk from this disease,” she said. On Monday, during their rounds, the team talked about not allowing the small shops to operate if they do not take their shots.

“If the shop keepers do not vaccinate themselves, we shall threaten to close them down… We have to vaccinate as many people as possible,” she said.

Balajinagar would be the next slum area where the PCMC would hold a similar vaccination camp starting Tuesday.

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