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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Take 5: ‘We tell them that the unvaccinated will not be let into public places. It usually works’

A man in Puducherry’s Konnerikuppam village recently climbed up a tree to avoid a Covid vaccination team. K Meenakshi, who is with the Koodapakkam Primary Health Centre,Puducherry, says she has stopped being surprised by such incidents now and the government should do more to tackle vaccine hesitancy

Written by Janardhan Koushik |
Updated: January 2, 2022 3:01:18 pm
Awareness campaigns may help: Meenakshi (right). (Express)

1 What is the vaccination target the administration has set for your team?

Of the 11,546 people who live in the jurisdiction of the Koodapakkam PHC, 8,700 are eligible for the vaccines (age 18 and above). We have administered the first dose to over 98% of the beneficiaries, but many of them have not got their second dose yet.

2 How do you deal with people who are hesitant to take the vaccines?

We try our best to convince them that the vaccines are safe. We even have a doctor in our team to talk to those who are not convinced. They tell people that if they don’t take the vaccines, their children and wives and sisters who are pregnant will suffer as they have lower immunity. But some people are not convinced even after all this. Some abuse us, asking if we have no other work, others don’t even open their doors. I have even been asked if I would pay them for getting vaccinated. They also say I should provide an assurance that I will take care of their family if they fall ill after getting vaccinated.

3 Why explains this hesitancy?

People fear that if they are administered vaccines, they will die. Some people claim that their hand hurts after the injection and that they don’t feel the same anymore — that the vaccines leave them exhausted and affects their work. Some ask us counter questions: ‘Why should we get vaccinated if the effect lasts only for six months?’ Or ‘What if I get Covid even after getting vaccinated?’.

4 How do you respond to that?

We talk to them patiently about the benefits of the vaccine. We tell them that if they don’t take their doses, they will get infected and end up in a hospital. We tell them that our Governor (Tamilisai Soundararajan) has strictly said that people who are not vaccinated won’t be allowed to enter public places. This usually works in many places and people agree to get vaccinated.

5 What do you think the government can do to tackle this vaccine hesitancy?

Awareness campaigns might help in villages. We issue pamphlets on the benefits of the vaccine, but we do that on our own. The government can probably find a way to target people who are unlettered or who don’t listen to healthcare workers.

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