Is vaccination essential to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus? Data as of March 28, 2022, shows that 59 percent of the population is vaccinated. Why is this so after a year and a half since vaccines were made available? One of the reasons could be the sheer fear of vaccination, as almost everyone suffers from fever after 6-8 hours of vaccination. In rural areas, where access to information is scarce, the apprehension is higher. Also to be taken into account is the sheer density of the Indian population as well as how scattered the population is across the vast country.
Malku Lal, 70, lives in Saliyana village of Karnaprayag block in the state of Uttarakhand. A daily-wage worker by profession, Malku lost his job during the lockdown. He had to spend all his savings, and his family ended up seeking help and relying on the groceries and essentials provided by the government and non-profit agencies. Then on a bright sunny day, the vaccines arrived, and after some initial days of hesitation, Malku Lal stood in the line and got himself vaccinated -- for he needed to get back to work. But the sudden high fever and weakness shook him off his feet, and he swore not to take the second dose of the vaccination.
His second dose was due before August 28, 2021. The Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) staff at the local clinic tried to reach him via phone calls but failed to lure him in. On August 28, Sewa International volunteers called him thrice, and he did not respond. “Having no other options left, we arrived at his hut (‘kutiya’). Seeing us he started shouting, ‘Vaccine lene se bohut bukhar aata hein, mujhe nehi lena vaccine aur’ (The vaccines cause high fever and weakness. I don’t want to take the second dose). It took us nearly half an hour to convince him, and then he finally agreed. We escorted him to the vaccination center, where the ANM staff waited,” a Sewa volunteer recounted.
This scenario is the same in many parts of the country. Some people think that only the first dose is sufficient for them, while others, like Malku, are afraid of the side effects of the vaccines. Despite this, we, as a nation, have to inform and empower everyone so that all are fully vaccinated.