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Visakhapatnam: Fear-stricken tribals develop vaccine hesitancy

People in rural areas are averse to Covid-19 vaccine in Visakhapatnam
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People in rural areas are averse to Covid-19 vaccine in Visakhapatnam

Highlights

A 65-year-old Sagina Rajulamma is scared of getting inoculated as she thinks that she might lose her eyesight if vaccinated.

Visakhapatnam: A 65-year-old Sagina Rajulamma is scared of getting inoculated as she thinks that she might lose her eyesight if vaccinated.

Her neighbour Adapa Lakshmi too believes that she might develop an allergy if she takes the jab for Covid-19.

The two women are not the only persons in rural hamlets who are under the impression that Covid-19 vaccination does more harm than good.

At Nittamamidipalem village in GK Veedhi mandal, many tribals feel that they will be susceptible to incurable side effects if they go for vaccination. Eventually, this fear has led to vaccine hesitancy among them, especially in the 45-plus age group.

Most of the tribals have their own theories to narrate. "While some say that they might lose their eyesight, others believe that they will never be able to lead a normal life as before once they are vaccinated," says Korabu Kiran, an engineering assistant at Antharla village, Chintapalle mandal. Along with those in Antharla, people residing in other hamlets across the mandal express concern over taking the shot. Though awareness is being created by some of the educated youngsters in the villages, they, however, call for a larger focus to address vaccine hesitancy in nondescript hamlets. "Elderly persons believe that they cannot sleep well or remain active once they are inoculated. For some strange reasons, they are not mentally prepared for the vaccination. Even when we try to educate the locals, not many pay heed to what we convey as they are more superstitious and have a stronger belief system," explains A Lakshmi, another resident of Nittamamidipalem village. A significant section of people in rural places is more worried and anxious about the side effects of the immunisation shots rather than the Covid-19 infection. Concrete steps are required to instill confidence and develop vaccine willingness in them.

The onset of monsoon triggers fever and viral infections among those in rural pockets. With the number of villagers averse to the vaccine, the district administration may have to deal with the situation effectively to achieve 100 percent immunisation as there is an indication of higher infection trends in the tribal areas due to vaccine hesitancy.

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