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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

India’s Vaccinators, Telangana: ‘I tell them I am moving around freely as I am fully vaccinated’ 

Vaccination is a unique challenge in Shadnagar, a well-developed urban area, because only a few residents step out to get inoculated.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad |
Updated: October 21, 2021 6:55:11 pm
Chekala Lalitha is an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker.

Chekala Lalitha, 35, ASHA worker, Ranga Reddy district

Chekala Lalitha, one among the numerous Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers who form the backbone of the vaccination drive in Telangana, goes door to door at Shadnagar in Ranga Reddy district, on the outskirts of Hyderabad. She says vaccination is a unique challenge because Shadnagar is a well-developed urban area but only a few residents step out to get vaccinated.

Dressed in a white cotton saree, Lalitha along with a nurse mostly has to coax residents to take the Covid-19 vaccine. “The first response when I am at anyone’s door is that they do not want to take the vaccine. They say they have heard that a person taking the vaccine falls sick or develops high fever for several days or the injection causes body aches. With some of the residents, no amount of convincing works,” she says.

She says she is surprised by the objections and excuses given by people while refusing the vaccine. “It is an urban area but many residents still believe in rumours and hearsay that taking the vaccine will make them fall ill. If one or two persons who took the vaccine get fever or body ache, that gets amplified and the news spreads everywhere and everyone turns against the vaccine,” she said.

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So, how does she convince people to finally take the jab? “First, I try to dispel the myths, and tell them that falling ill after taking the vaccine is rare. Then I tell them that health workers are able to move around freely to give vaccines because we ourselves are fully vaccinated, and it gives good protection against the Covid-19. Then I also inform them that a third wave of Covid-19 is predicted and it can be very deadly for people who are not vaccinated, and it can have serious consequences on their health if they are not fortified with the vaccine. We have managed to convince many with these explanations,” she says. Ever since Lalitha and her team started vaccinating in May, they have managed to vaccinate approximately 800 out of 1,000 people in her jurisdiction.

She says the most common refrain from several men for not taking the vaccine is that they won’t be able to “drink and eat” for several days after taking the vaccine.

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