A Bihar Village Refused To Get Jabbed Earlier, Now 90% Are Vaccinated
Villagers in Bihar's Simri Dumri had refused to get vaccinated at one point, but today 90% of them are vaccinated.
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After a devastating second wave, as India prepares for a third wave of COVID-19, the government is aiming to vaccinate a big chunk of the population to minimise the impact of future infections.
While vaccine hesitancy fuelled by misinformation is hampering an already slow immunisation drive, some villages have emerged as a model for several others after they have successfully overcome the 'hesitancy hurdle'.
The Quint along with a non-profit organisation, Video Volunteers, spoke to villagers in West Champaran's Simri Dumri village, who had at one point of time refused to get vaccinated citing fear of death. Today, nearly 90 percent of the villagers are vaccinated.
How ASHA Workers Encouraged Locals
In April, when the Video Volunteer's reporter Tanju Devi, who is a resident of the same village, spoke to the women, they refused to get vaccinated.
Thirty-seven-year-old Poonam Devi, a resident of the village, told us that people die after getting the vaccine and that she doesn't want to die. She said she has received the information on her mobile phone.
However, now two months later, Devi is vaccinated.
The reporter had encouraged her to take the vaccine. She has been actively engaged with the local authorities to promote vaccination in the village. On seeing her getting vaccinated, other women felt confident to get jabbed.
ASHA workers and social workers in the area also motivated people to get vaccinated. And WhatsApp – a major source of misinformation for the villagers, as per their own admission – was used to share verified articles and videos, to spread awareness.
The village administration, too, held vaccination camps that proved to be beneficial as the villagers felt more comfortable and encouraged on seeing fellow villagers getting vaccinated.
Simri Dumri village has around 3,500 families, and today around 90 percent of adults in these families are vaccinated.
For Some Villagers, Fear Still Reigns
However, there are still some villagers where people harbour the fear that the vaccines will kill them. Barudah village in Araria district – which houses nearly 2,500 families – echoes this concern.
Speaking to us, Rajina Khatoon, a resident of the village who is in her 50s says:
"People in my family and neighbourhood have died after taking the vaccine. 150 families here don't want to take the vaccine. And it's better if the government doesn't give us anything."Rajina Khatoon
An auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) in the village told us that they have organised vaccination camps in the village and nearly 250 residents have benefitted from it, so far.
(Reporting: Tanju Devi for Video Volunteers)
(Update: The story has been updated to add that the reporter (Tanju Devi) is a resident of the village and that she helped the villagers overcome vaccine hesitancy.)
(This story has been published as a part of The Quint’s COVID-19 fact-check project targeting rural women.)
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