COVID 19 Vaccination Chennai

Mass vaccination camp in Kasimedu

A decades-old small temple seems integral to life at Nagoovar Thottam residents, a fishing hamlet near Harbour.

Women wait on the temple’s sandy veranda for the return of their men from the sea. Children play around the granite pillars at the temple. The fishers dry their fishing nets around the temple. Meetings relating to civic issues, local festivals and other such events take place around the temple.

A fortnight ago, the veranda at the temple was occupied by residents of the neighbourhood for an urgent meeting called by the village elders. The meeting meant to arrive at a decision about whether to take the vaccine or not.

Many residents were reluctant to take the shot as they feared it would cause severe side effects. They even contended that the salty sea breeze has been offering them a protection against many illnesses for many years. However, at the hour-long meeting, village elders, who were supported by the health officials of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) and also officials from the Fisheries Department, persuaded the residents to take the vaccine.

“After many residents had agreed to take the vaccine, the question arose about who should take the first shot. Village elders including myself volunteered to take the first dose to instil confidence among our people,” says 54-year-old ‘Captain’ D. Shankar, a village elder and also Chennai district secretary, Tamil Nadu Fishermen Federation.

Nagoorar Thootam village is not the only fishing hamlet to warm up to the vaccination drive. Similar meetings were held in 20 other fishing hamlets including Singaravelan Nagar, Annai Indira Nagar, CG Colony, Kasipuram, Vinayagapuram and Dhupathi Ammanpuram covering three Assembly constituencies of Tiruvottiyur, Royapuram and RK Nagar to persuade their residents to take the vaccine.

As a result, the GCC in coordination with the Fisheries Department and the police conducted the first free mass vaccination camp at the auction centre in Kasimedu on June 5.

Many residents recollected that such a mass vaccination drive had never before been held in the northern parts of the city especially in the fishing hamlets for many decades, except for those relating to Hepatitis B in the early 1970s.

“We roped in boat associations, fishermen federations and village elders to make the drive successful,” says a senior official with the State Fisheries Department.

According to officials, the vaccination camp in Kasimedu is the biggest such camp in the city with at least 60 health staff including doctors, nurses and health workers working between 9 a.m and 5 p.m on all days including Sundays. On an average, more than 500 fishermen get vaccinated at the camp every day.

With the 60-day-ban on fishing set to end on June 15, health officials fast-tracked the vaccination drive among the fishing population along the coast.


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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 4:47:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/mass-vaccination-camp-in-kasimedu/article34795287.ece

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