“We were afraid of taking the vaccine because the villagers said vaccinated people die in a couple of years,” said Sevaju, a 65-year-old daily wage labourer.
In Dangs, Gujarat, Sevaju, and most of his community members were reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The government set up a vaccination booth but had only a handful of takers. Sevaju’s son Arvind, 35, and daughter-in-law Parvati, 33, were also sceptical about it. “We have had a couple of COVID-19 cases in the community. The government set up a vaccination centre but people didn’t want to get the vaccine,” said Jignesh, a World Vision India volunteer in the community.
In this tribal belt, where a majority of the community is illiterate, Jignesh believes the importance of vaccination is easily miscommunicated. People buy into the rumours circulated on social media far too easily. “A villager died after getting the vaccine. He didn’t die from the vaccine. He had other underlying health problems but rumours spread fast and so people stopped going to the vaccination centre,” said Jignesh. He has attended many COVID -19 awareness training sessions organised by World Vision India.
World Vision India is now working with the local government to raise awareness and shed more light on the myths and rumours surrounding the vaccine. World Vision India’s volunteers go from house to house to answer the doubts they have regarding COVID-19 vaccination.
“The government shared their vaccination schedule and we try to inform and bring as many people as we can to the vaccination centre,” said Sandip, a World Vision India staff at Dangs.
Arvind and Parvati are parents to three children, Steven, Preeyanshi and Shivanya, who is a World Vision India sponsored child. Arvind is a farmer and his wife Parvati is a housewife. Their children attend the local government school and they do not have the facilities to continue their education online.
“I was really afraid of getting the vaccine, but volunteers from World Vision India came and clarified our doubts. My whole family and I have been vaccinated and now we feel good. Thank you,” said Parvati.
The government of India launched a countrywide vaccination drive on 16, January 2021. As of 6th July, over 357 million doses have been administered.
There is still a long way to go, especially in rural India. In many of our communities, World Vision India’s volunteers are playing a vital role in bridging the gaps between the government and the local population.