Tamil Nadu's approach to tribal vaccination

Tribals climbing a tree to escape from the vaccination drive at Sarkar Purathipathy on the outskirts of Coimbatore
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Tribals climbing a tree to escape from the vaccination drive at Sarkar Purathipathy on the outskirts of Coimbatore (Couretsy: newindianexpress)

Highlights

  • The vaccine has been difficult to deliver to members of tribal tribes, owing to disinformation conveyed through WhatsApp forwards.
  • S Senthilkumar, Deputy Director of Health Services (DDHS), said that the administration recently conducted a tribal counselling session in Valparai.

The vaccine has been difficult to deliver to members of tribal tribes, due to disinformation conveyed through WhatsApp forwards. A group of tribal males from a village near Sadivayal in Coimbatore district recently climbed a tree to avoid being vaccinated by Health Department workers. They will now be advised by the department.

S Senthilkumar, Deputy Director of Health Services (DDHS), said that the administration recently conducted a tribal counselling session in Valparai. According to him, the elderly residents of the hamlet were urged to explain the advantages of getting the vaccine. Many tribes were vaccinated as a result of this. They promised to make a similar effort in the district's other communities. Several tribal members risk getting vaccinated because they feel it will prevent them from drinking alcohol, as per field health officers from Chengalpattu and Tiruvallur. An official from a Peruncheri PHC who went to Venkatapuram village in Tiruvallur to vaccinate tribals stated his staff was not let in just for two days.

According to the officer, they finally let us in after several failed tries. They decided to get vaccinated because we already knew members of the community. However, just around 10 persons out of the 60 who were eligible took the vaccine on the first day,

An official stated that within the week, though, all of the hamlet's eligible residents had been vaccinated. Similar incidents were also reported in Kadambathur and Red Hills hamlets. Some individuals in Red Hills agreed to get vaccinated only after awareness workshops and regular conversations.

Chengalpattu field officers claimed they engage in frequent interactions with the communities to dispel misunderstandings. Despite the difficulties, officials have been able to vaccinate a large number of tribals, particularly in the Nilgiris. Vaccines, unlike some of them, cause serious health problems. The majority of their knowledge comes from WhatsApp forwards.

As per tribal rights activists, the lack of exposure and remoteness of their community are the main reasons for their reluctance to get vaccinated.

Furthermore, Azhagesan stated that the infection incidence among them is low, the State Tribal Association's district secretary in Chengalpattu.

Dr. J Radhakrishnan, the Health Secretary, mentioned that the government is enlisting the help of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to reach out to tribals and have them vaccinated. He said that due to a lack of exposure to contemporary medicine, they may be more cautious but, gradually, the vaccine drive will cover all of them.

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