By Humana People to People India as adapted from a project report
“It is critical that everyone is vaccinated since it minimises the fatality rate caused by COVID-19,” says Ratnamma, 49, of Shadnagar Village in Telangana's Ranga Reddy district. Ratnamma, on the other hand, wasn't always so aware of and confident in the immunisation process.
When the India government announced free vaccinations for citizens above 45 years of age, Ratnamma faced two issues. One issue was access - long lines and registrations made the process extremely risky. The second, and perhaps most important, concern of vaccination arose from the fact that neither she nor her husband, David, had any knowledge of the vaccine. She believed the rumour mill and even believed that people would die if they took the vaccine.
“Some people warned me that if you get the vaccine, you will die, while a few others said you would get fever and headache,” Ratnamma said.
It was during a door-to-door awareness campaign by Humana People to People India’s (HPPI) Community Development Project (CDP) in Ranga Reddy, when the team visited Ratnamma. Her anxiety and hesitation concerning COVID-19 vaccination is a general feel among the a significant portion of individuals.
“Knowing my apprehensions, team members from HPPI helped me to understand better what COVID-19 vaccination and what do I stand to gain from participating in it. After an explaination of the entire process, the team took me to the vaccination centre and got my name registered to get the first dose of the Covishield vaccine.” Ratnamma was also prescribed by the doctor to take a Paracetamol in case of fever and headache which was a very common effect after taking the vaccine.
In a similar case, 51-year-old Kottali Sudhakar Goud from Mahabubnagar was visiting his daughter’s village in Nandigama Nandigama Mandal, Ranga Reddy when he heard about HPPI’s initiatives. When the team visited his daughter’s home, Sudhakar cleared all his doubts and took the team’s help to get the first dose of the vaccine for him and his wife.
He says, “I had heard a lot of fake news from some people around me that I could die of blood clotting if I took the vaccine. But none of this is true. Apart from a slight fever and headache, the vaccine is important as it reduces high chances of life loss when infected by coronavirus. My chances of survival are increased as compared when I am unvaccinated.”
Qualified nurses under HPPI’s CDP Ranga Reddy followed up with Ratnamma and Kottali Sudhakar Goud and made arrangements for the willing adult family members to get vaccinated. Today, they continue to help the Primary Health Centres (PHC) in online registrations, following up on COVID-19 positive cases and spreading the right information and awareness on behalf of the PHCs. Project team members are mobilising the community with information, technological aid and training the youth on the registration process. In some CDP’s, HPPI project nurses have also received training from Government Medical Staff to independently organise and run vaccination camps.
It is very crucial at this time that everyone gets vaccinated as it will help reduce the risks and make a person help fight the virus if exposed. World Health Organization states, “the COVID-19 vaccines produce protection against the disease, as a result of developing an immune response to the SARS-Cov-2 virus. Developing immunity through vaccination means there is a reduced risk of developing the illness and its consequences.”
Aiding to this idea is a global movement called the People’s Vaccine Alliance which supports the idea that vaccines should be made accessible for all. The People’s Vaccine Alliance is a movement of health, humanitarian and human rights organisations, past and present world leaders, health experts, faith leaders and economists advocating that COVID-19 vaccines are manufactured rapidly and at scale, as global common goods, free of intellectual property protections and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge. To know more about the movement, visit https://peoplesvaccine.org/.
While the COVID-19 vaccine will protect us from serious illness or fatality, it is always important that we continue wearing masks, practice safe hygiene and maintain physical distancing.