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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Una health worker gets PM’s praise in Himachal vaccination milestone story

Posted at the District Hospital in Una, this 52-year-old health worker has been working against many odds – procedural as well as personal.

Written by Rajesh Chander Sharma | Una |
Updated: September 7, 2021 3:28:52 am
Karmo Devi alone was responsible for more than 22,000 vaccinations at Una District Hospital. (File)

WHEN PRIME Minister Narendra Modi on Monday addressed health workers of Himachal Pradesh – the first state to achieve 100 per cent target of administering the first dose of the Covid vaccine for those aged 18 and above – Karmo Devi’s efforts came in for special appreciation.

Posted at the District Hospital in Una, this 52-year-old health worker has been working against many odds – procedural as well as personal. And, at the end of the day, she achieved a remarkable feat: out of more than 36,000 doses administered at the hospital, she alone was responsible for more than 22,000.

“Una’s Karmo Deviji is a Karmayogi in the real sense. Not only has she administered more than 22,000 doses of the vaccine along with her team, she also did not let her fractured foot deter her from continuing the vaccinaton drive,” the Prime Minister tweeted after his address and interaction with the health workers, including Karmo Devi.

The Indian Express had on September 2 reported about the health worker and how she played a lead role in the vaccination drive, despite a fractured ankle and other issues, in some of its editions.

After her virtual interaction with the Prime Minister, Karmo Devi said, “Modiji enquired about my vaccination experience. He already knew about my fracture. It felt very nice.”

Himachal Pradesh Health Minister Dr Rajiv Saizal earlier told The Indian Express that it was because of dedicated frontline workers like Karmo Devi that the state’s vaccination achievement has been possible. “These frontline workers reached remote areas on foot, carrying boxes of vaccines. When the second wave came, we launched Him Surkasha campaign wherein our teams made people aware of the importance of Covid-appropriate behaviour. The vaccination drive involved a lot of teamwork and the credit goes to the frontline workers,” he said.

Dr Nikhil Sharma, who is in charge of the vaccination drive in Una district, recounted how Karmo Devi took the lead to overcome the initial obstacles. “When vaccination started in January, my staff members were scared of the virus. But Karmo Devi willingly came forward, and that solved my problem. In fact, many problems: initially, the CoWin portal was not behaving as it should have and the people were getting restless. She was very gentle and understanding with the people. She managed them well,” he said.

“To overcome the portal hiccups, she would jot down details of the beneficiaries manually and enter them in the computer after the vaccination session. Even the government guidelines on manual recording of beneficiary details came late,” he said.

Wasn’t she scared of the virus? “I knew vaccination is the only safeguard and the only solution. So, I just took precautions and did my job,” said Karmo Devi.

From March to May, she worked without a break. “Even on Sundays and gazetted holidays, I had to work because there was a lot of work and fear caused by the second wave,” she said.

Then, on July 4, Karmo Devi fractured her right ankle while on duty. She was advised four-week rest. But she was back at work after eight days. The only difference: earlier she used to administer the vaccine while standing, now she remained seated.

“She is a dedicated worker. She kept on taking medicines and kept on working. Even during those eight days that she was away, we managed somehow but we missed her,” said Dr Raman Kumar Sharma, chief medical officer.

Karmo Devi vaccinated her family as well. Her husband, Surinder Singh, is a retired Hindi lecturer and her 26-year-old son, Navpreet Singh, is a software engineer. “We were worried about her. But we encouraged her because we knew someone has to do this job,” said Navpreet.

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