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Sunday, July 25, 2021

A Punjab village with ‘100% vaccination’: How a reluctant attitude turned into acceptance

The villagers needed much convincing to take the Covid vaccine, which required multiple visits by health officials to their homes.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana |
Updated: June 24, 2021 10:05:15 am
Out of the 905 villagers, 166 have got both doses while the rest have taken the first shot. (Express Photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

ON JUNE 12, Ludhiana district’s Bhikhi Khatra became the first village in Punjab to attain the status of “100 per cent vaccination”, but it was not an easy task.

The villagers needed much convincing to take the Covid vaccine, which required multiple visits by health officials to their homes. The panchayat is to get a Rs 10 lakh grant as announced by Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Health department official Dr Sukhwinder Singh said 50 per cent of the villagers had to be requested repeatedly to get the jab. The village has a population of 1,700, out of which 947 were adults. “A total 905 have been vaccinated, 18 were pregnant females who could not be vaccinated as there are no guidelines for them while the rest 24 were medically unfit for vaccination i.e their chemotherapy was going on or a few were having some other serious ailments and hence doctors did not give consent. Hence, under these conditions, 905 needed to be vaccinated and hence the 100 per cent target had been achieved,” he added.

Out of the 905 villagers, 166 have got both doses while the rest have taken the first shot.

Mandeep Singh, one of the panches of the village panchayat, said, “In March, no one from the village came forward to get them vaccinated, but in April, a few of them went for their first jab. There are four villagers aged above 90 years and when they got their first jab in May, a number of youngsters felt motivated. This is how we achieved our 100 per cent target.

“Harpal Kaur (97), Bhagoo Devi (93), Mahinder Kaur (92) and Gurmail Singh (91) have got their first doses. They were cited as an example to youngsters, due to which they felt encouraged and came forward. Out of 905 villagers, nearly 500 got themselves vaccinated without much hassle but for the remaining 405, our health teams had to make repeated visits to their homes,” said Dr Sukhwinder.

A team of a community health officer (CHO), an auxiliary nursing midwife (ANM) and two accredited social health activists (ASHAs) posted at the village’s health and wellness clinic worked hard to achieve this target, said Civil Surgeon Dr Kiran Gill. This team was also honoured by DC Varinder Kumar Sharma on June 21 at his office. ANM Kiran Rani and ASHAs Gagandeep Kaur and Mandeep Kaur were handed over cheques worth Rs 1,100 each as well.

CHO Jaswinder Kaur said, “It was not an easy task. We daily read the news on how vaccines are reaching the remotest villages of India and how health teams are convincing residents. I am happy that we also got inspired from such stories and hence became part of them.”

Bhagwant Singh, ex-sarpanch of the village, said, “I am 49 years old and I have got both doses. I am hale and hearty. Earlier there was a sense of fear among the villagers regarding side effects of the vaccine, but as the cases started increasing and even rural areas got hit hard, everyone started falling in line to get the jabs.”

Asked what they will be doing with the Rs 10 lakh grant, panchayat member Mandeep Singh said, “We will be using it to improve the structure of the village dispensary building and its approach road. We hope that the grant will be received by the village soon.”

Lakhvir Singh Lakha, MLA of Payal constituency, under which this village falls, said, “Health teams deserve this credit and we hope more such villages join Bhikhi soon.”

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