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How to get the Covid-19 vaccine to the nooks and crannies of rural India4 min read

June 10, 2021 4 min read

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How to get the Covid-19 vaccine to the nooks and crannies of rural India4 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Can you accurately guess the number of vaccines that the Indian government has already doled out?

Yup, 230 million vaccines!! That seems like a pretty huge number. But, when compared to our population, this massive collection of digits is actually not as impressive. Only 14 out of every hundred Indians have got just one dose of the vaccine. That is only or 14% of our population. And as you probably know, to get fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, you need two doses of the vaccine.

Odisha brings doctors, medical students, paramedical staff under state pool  | Business Standard News
A covid-19 vaccination center. Image: Business Standard

So far, 3% of our population is fully vaccinated.

Even within the small fraction of people that have been vaccinated, there is an astounding divide. While vaccines in large cities are quickly getting used up, in rural areas, the vaccine drive is moving along at a sloth’s pace.

Click on this image to get transported to a world of vaccines. Image: NPR

A look at the numbers

114 of India’s rural districts—home to a collective population of 176 million people—have administered only 23 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccines so far. That means that only 10% of the whopping 230 million doses given out so far have gone to people living in these less developed areas. In contrast, more than half or over 60% of India’s population lives in rural areas.

Nine major cities—New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Thane and Nagpur— have also received 23 million vaccines. The population of these cities combined is less than half of the 114 rural districts mentioned above.

With such few vaccines administered to the rural population, hundreds of millions of people in villages are still vulnerable to the awful Covid-19 virus. Since people in these areas don’t have access to proper medical care, fixing this problem is of the utmost importance.

Confused Dog Sticker by namslam

So, let’s look at why people in rural areas aren’t getting vaccinated and see how experts think we can reverse the statistics.

Vaccine hesitancy

One of the main reasons that people in villages aren’t getting vaccinated is because they simply don’t want to. Rumours and fake news spread mostly via WhatsApp forwards have led to irrational fears around the vaccine. Some people think they will die if they take the vaccine, while others believe the shot injects you with Covid-19. Some have even been led to believe that if they do take the vaccine, they won’t ever be able to have children.

Experts think that the only way to tackle this issue would be by having influential people in the village dispel the rumours. If religious heads and other local authorities take the vaccine to show that it’s safe, others will soon follow. The government can also run campaigns to share honest data and information with the public.

While there is a chance of having serious side effects to the vaccine, such occurrences are extremely rare. Vaccines are far safer than infection from the Covid-19 virus.

Vaccine shortage

There aren’t enough vaccines. With a population as large as ours, we need to make many or buy more vaccines. But doing that isn’t easy at all. Other countries in the world have blocked countries like India from receiving vaccine ingredients and recipes! Click on the image below to see why manufacturing more vaccines in India is quite a challenge.

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What do you think you can do to help rural India get vaccinated?
Can you think of ways in which you can stop the spread of misinformation?
What steps do you think the government should take to ensure a more equal distribution of vaccines?
Is it important for different parts of the country to get vaccinated at the same rate?

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With Excerpts From: Forbes, Reuters, Livemint, Times of India, Hindustan Times, Times Now, and National Geographic.

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