June 21, 2021 5:22:43 am
Hoshiarpur district of Punjab is setting the bar really high when it comes to vaccinating rural masses against the deadly Covid-19 infection.
As per official reports, Hoshiarpur has managed to successfully help its villagers in overcoming their vaccine hesitancy that is often deep-rooted in the rural hinterland and has so far achieved nearly a 100 per cent coverage rate in at least 61 of its 1400 villages. Officials said at present their focus is on another set of 150 villages of the district, where the vaccination drive is on in full swing and they expect to achieve 100 per cent coverage in these villages soon.
According to estimates, around 79 per cent of Hoshiarpur district’s population of 15.86 lakh (according 2011 census) lives in rural areas.
Sources in the health department said that the district has adopted a strategy, under which small villages with less population, are being covered first under the vaccination drive. “The Sub-Divisional magistrates (SDMs) are holding command for leading the drive in mission mode. They are identifying small villages where they want to ensure 100 per cent vaccine coverage before moving on to the bigger villages,” said an SDM of the district.
The SDM said that in order to increase the coverage of jabs, they organise outreach camps in villages after taking the Panchayat, the headman (numberdar) and chowkidar as well as other village elders into confidence. The camps saw medical officers and senior medical officers of the areas, revenue Patwaris, Anganwadi workers, ASHA workers, and Panchyat officers playing crucial roles.
Records showed that the district so far has recorded zero vaccine wastage against the maximum permissible limit of 2 per cent.
During the first Covid wave in Punjab, several villages on their own had shut entry for outsiders, with even health department teams not being allowed permission to enter. The situation slightly improved during the second wave, even though several villagers refused to get vaccinated initially, owing to hesitancy. That hesitancy, officials said, has slowly faded away as the vaccination drive continued to gather steam.
Punj, a village which is situated in the remote Kandi area of Hoshiarpur district, is among the 61 villages which has so far achieved a 100 per cent target for vaccination.
Sarabjit Kumar, a resident of the village who got his second Covid jab 15 days ago, said that the entire village, including the elderly, shunned hesitancy and turned up to get their jabs when it was their time.
“Ours is a small village with a population of around 100 people. All the residents of this village are descendants of one family only and when one person in the family takes a decision, everyone else follows it,” said Sarabjit Kumar.
Like Punj, other villages — like Ramgarh Sikri, Nathuwal, and Nazarpur — too have inoculated 100 per cent of their residents.
The Punjab nodal officer for vaccination, Vikas Garg, said that though the overall performance of Mohali district was appreciable, Hoshiarpur district was doing extremely well when it came to Covid jabs in the rural areas. He said that Hoshiarpur is expected to achieve 100 per cent vaccination in around 150 villages in the coming few weeks.
Deputy Commissioner of Hoshiarpur Apnit Riayat could not be contacted for a comment on the issue.
Civil Surgeon of the district, Dr Ranjit Singh, however, confirmed that the residents of 61 villages have been inoculated 100 per cent, while adding that there were several villages with 80 to 90 per cent coverage so far, which will soon increase to 100 per cent.
“There was hesitancy among the people earlier. But now, they (the villagers) are encouraging each other to come forward and get vaccinated. Our health teams are interacting with people and clearing their doubts before holding vaccination camps in villages,” he added.
Even during the first wave, when reports were coming in that several panchayats across the state of Punjab were refusing to give samples for Covid testing, the SSP of Hoshiarpur, Navjot Singh Mahal, had launched a special drive for convincing the villagers, after which 857 Panchayats and 62 wards across the district, had passed resolutions supporting testing for Covid 19.
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