Low Level of Vaccine Hesitancy in Rural Assam, Nearly 84% Want the Jab
People want the COVID-19 vaccine but there is a need to create awareness given the spread of misinformation.
Close to 84 percent people surveyed across 202 villages in 20 districts of Assam want to take the COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 76 percent believe that the vaccine will give them protection against the virus.
This is according to a survey conducted by Brahmaputra Community Radio Station (BCRS) and Boat Clinic Intervention Island Villages for The Quint to understand the level of awareness and vaccine hesitancy in the state.
However, the result reveals that though majority of the people want to get vaccinated, a substantial percent of the surveyed population is hearing rumours related to COVID-19 vaccination, which ranges from “death due to vaccine” to “vaccine causing COVID”.
The survey was conducted between mid-June and July and 440 people participated in it. Of this, 44.09 percent were women while 55.90 percent were men.
Nearly 76% Believe That Vaccine Will Keep Them Away From COVID
As per the findings of the survey, 81.3 percent people in the surveyed districts of Dibrugarh, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Jorhat among others said that it is important to take the vaccine and 84.9 percent said that they are willing to take it.
Almost 76 percent firmly believed that the vaccine will keep them away from COVID.
Nearly half of the surveyed population knows about the symptoms of COVID-19 and considers getting treated by a doctor as opposed to home treatment.
The survey conducted by Radio Brahmaputra, in which 250 people participated, revealed that of the people who don't wish to get vaccinated, nearly 26.95 percent believe that the vaccine weakens the body, 26.08 percent think that it will cause death, and 8.69 percent believe that the vaccine will cause COVID-19.
When asked if the people were scared about taking the vaccine, only 31 percent said that they were fearful, while 69 percent said they didn’t fear the vaccine.
The findings of the survey are in sharp contrast to an earlier survey that we had conducted – along with Video Volunteers – in the rural areas of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, where close to 42 percent people said that they won’t get vaccinated.
This survey was conducted between 28 April and 12 May, when the daily cases were surging and India was experiencing a second wave.
Rumours on the Rise, But People Want the Vaccine
Despite the fact that 84 percent of the people want the vaccine, almost all of the surveyed people have heard rumours and conspiracy theories related to vaccines, though it has not had any direct impact on their decision to get vaccinated, the findings reveal.
30.09 percent people said that COVID-19 vaccine may cause other diseases, 39.84 percent said that people will die due to the vaccine, and nearly 10 percent believe that the vaccine will cause COVID.
Less Trust on WhatsApp Forwards, Facebook
The survey has revealed that the people in rural parts of Assam trust radio and newspapers the most.
Nearly 77.5 percent trust the information that they receive from radio, while 74.75 percent trust newspapers.
The level of trust is fairly low on WhatsApp (42.35 percent) and Facebook (35.55 percent), when compared to other sources.
When specifically questioned about information on COVID-19, the main source of information for most people were ASHA workers.
The survey suggests that people are willing to get vaccinated but there is still a need to create awareness given the spread of misinformation with respect to the vaccination drive.
(Disclaimer: The Quint is working with Centre for North East Studies (C-NES) to help fact-check misinformation about the COVID-19 immunisation process in the rural parts of Assam, with a focus on women. The story has been published as part of the same project.)
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