Indian vaccinators, Karnataka: “Some of them fled into the forests after seeing us”

A walk through the dense forests of Kodagu district in Karnataka and a long walk through the muddy terrain afterwards to reach the scattered tribal settlements at Virajpet taluk was a difficult act for military medic Dr Shivappa S Gotyal and his team. of vaccinators in recent months.

“Whenever we have visited these areas, our team has focused on our goal of convincing as many residents as possible to take the Covid-19 vaccine amid fears of intrusion of wild animals into these forest areas,” says Gotyal, 51.

The team of ASHA (accredited social health activist), ANM (auxiliary nurse midwifery) and nurses had to make several trips to six tribal villages – Diddalli, Chennangi, Daiyyadadlu, Chottepara , Basavanahalli and Kesuvinakere – in the hilly district to raise awareness. and the implementation of the vaccination campaign among the population.

“While most of them resisted the doses of vaccines, some even fled into the forests when they saw our staff approaching, dressed in white and pink. In some cases, we had to wait hours near their camps for them to come back and start a conversation, ”said Dr Gotyal, chief medical officer of Channayanakote public health center.

However, the team began to experience success in their pursuit after the second or third visit when they took local leaders and members of the gram panchayat with them after vaccinating them. “We started labeling those who were already vaccinated and had them describe how safe the process was for everyone. With the additional efforts of the gram panchayat task force, local police officers, community representatives, staff from the Tribal Judicial Office and teachers from Anganwadi, more people were convinced to take the jab, ”he said. he declared.

According to statistics released by the Taluk Health Unit in Virajpet, the team reached 98.2% coverage of the total population of these villages as of October 20. villages have been vaccinated with at least one dose so far, while 348 (47 percent) of them are fully vaccinated, ”the doctor said.

Even as India passed the milestone of one million doses of the Covid vaccine on Thursday, Dr Gotyal and his team were busy developing new strategies to convince the remaining 13 people to get vaccinated. “We are now trying new methods to strike up a conversation with each of them and we are trying to familiarize ourselves with the remaining 13 people in these six villages by visiting them frequently,” he said, hoping to ” achieve 100% coverage. as soon as possible.

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