In Sudamdih, a small remote area of Dhanbad, one can hear loud announcements for COVID-19 vaccine availability. There are announcements done five to six times throughout the day, but the people are scarce. People are afraid of myths that are spreading. It seems myths have way more important than vaccines and health itself.
This is the condition of every small area of Dhanbad, where people are afraid of inoculating vaccines. “One should not take the vaccine as it may lead to infertility in women” rumours of this kind spread like fire in small places. Top experts have cleared that vaccines don't lead to infertility but it has no effect on people.
Women of middle-class families are not coming out for vaccines as they fear for their families if they fall ill. “I can’t take the risk of falling ill or having any side effects of the vaccine as I have small children to look after,” said Rekha. Women are the major population not stepping outside for vaccines.
The covid-19 vaccine has rolled out from 16th January 2021. But, still, the country is going through vaccine hesitancy on a large scale. Myths and rumours regarding vaccines are flouting, and this is spreading fear among the masses. Dhanbad’s people of the Upper strata are ahead in vaccinating themselves.
The economically weaker section is the one that is facing vaccine hesitancy. Reasons are clear as they aren’t very familiar with social media where people are motivating to take vaccines and bursting myths regarding vaccines. Clarification of people's fear is required and a door to door campaign is required to make people come out of their houses.
The call of the hour is to burst these myths and get vaccinated to protect the population. But in remote areas like that of Dhanbad, people are not aware much. Masks and sanitisers have already been packed by people as if Covid has ceased to exist. Though people are continuously changing their mindset on vaccines, the economically weaker section of society still needs clarification on various myths.
Vaccines containing calf serum is another myth. This one is preventing people to take vaccines but this has been clarified by top medical experts still this is spreading. Some consider the fake WhatsApp forwards to be the reality. These WhatsApp forwards are like fuels to the fire.
Health workers are trying their best to make people aware, but that’s not their job. In Dhanbad, Covid precautions have not been forgotten since June.
The government is changing the guidelines regarding vaccine inoculation. In new guidelines breastfeeding women and pregnant women can take vaccines. But people are so indulged with fear that women still don’t want to take vaccines. Though the government may release studies proving that it’s okay for pregnant and lactating women to take vaccines, still in small towns programs are needed to conduct to burst the myths and fear in people’s minds.
“Breastfeeding mothers should get themselves vaccinated against Covid-19 without any hesitation. The anti-body that is developed in the mother as a result of vaccination get passively transferred to the baby while breastfeeding, and could be helpful to the children,” said Dr Samiran Panda, who is an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) expert.
This kind of news needs to reach every house of India to burst myths and this can’t be done through television or the internet. We need people who can gain the trust of people and make them understand\d the importance so that vaccine hesitancy can reduce.
Though the government has no intention to neglect the vulnerable and privilege the fear but these myths are doing the same. Regular public forums are needed to be conducted where curiosity and fears of the public are needed to be answered. Twitter or Youtube is still for the privileged and not for the vulnerable.
We need to make people understand the importance of vaccination and together we can do so.
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