Tamil Nadu

Coronavirus | Vaccine hesitancy rife in rural Tamil Nadu despite rising cases

C. Venkatesan (right), a resident of Bodipatti village, showing the mark on his arm where the vaccine shot was administered while his wife R. Kalavathi (left) and daughter V. Sathya have not taken the shots ner Udumalpet in Tiruppur district. File   | Photo Credit: S. Siva Saravanan

Despite the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic raging through the country with the number of cases rising everyday, vaccine hesitancy continues, preventing many from ensuring their safety.

R. Kalavathi of Bodipatti village panchayat near Udumalpet in Tiruppur district in western Tamil Nadu, is one of several persons who has not gotten vaccinated and is unsure of whether she wants to take the shot, fearing the side effects.

“Different people are saying different things, so I am still not sure,” the 54-year-old said on Thursday.

The fact that her husband C. Venkatesan has taken his first shots has not convinced Ms. Kalavathi.

An automobile dealer, Mr. Venkatesan, 57, said he had experienced mild side effects after taking the first shot of Covishield vaccine on April 10 such as fever and diarrhoea for about two days. Ms. Kalavathi said seeing her husband experiencing these side effects aggravated her apprehensions against vaccination further.

On the other hand, she admitted that hearing about how vaccines reduce the severity of COVID-19 infection has left her confused. “It is now scary to take the vaccine shot and it is equally scary to not take it,” she remarked.

Her 27-year-old daughter V. Sathya said she was ready to take the vaccine shots. However, she is also apprehensive that taking the shots would cause problems in the future. She claimed that many have not been vaccinated in her locality in Udumalpet town, where she resides with her husband and daughter. “If everyone around us says that they have been vaccinated, we would gain some confidence,” she said.

At the premises of the government hospital at Jallipatti village panchayat near Bodipatti, about two dozen workers — most of them women — are working as cleaners, employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. However, except for five, most said that they were unwilling to take the vaccine shots. “If we fall sick [after taking the vaccine shot] for 10 days, who will feed our families?” asked Lakshmi, one of the workers.

“We generally get only Sundays as holidays and most of us take rest on that day,” said Sarojini, one of those who is yet to be vaccinated. Dhanalakshmi, who was among the few workers to get vaccinated, said that she managed to get her first vaccine dose at the Jallipatti government hospital recently, but she had to take rest for two days as she experienced mild fever and body ache.

Tiruppur District Collector K. Vijayakarthikeyan told The Hindu on Thursday that the district administration will conduct more outreach camps in rural areas to counter vaccine hesitancy, especially among the vulnerable populations.

“We have to keep creating awareness,” he said. As of Thursday, over 1.4 lakh beneficiaries have been vaccinated (including the first and second dose) in the district, Mr. Vijayakarthikeyan noted.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 4:24:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/vaccine-hesitancy-rife-in-rural-tn-despite-rising-cases/article34515116.ece

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