Helplines, mobiliser teams to fight vaccine resistance in Haryana’s Nuh
Already grappling with the second wave of Covid-19, the Nuh district administration in Haryana is also facing challenges in encouraging people to get themselves tested or inoculated, and has had to come up with innovative ideas to educate the people about the pandemic.
This Sunday, the Nuh administration launched dedicated, round-the-clock Covid-19 helplines -- 1950,1800 180 1256, 01267 282 002, +91 70826 26686 -- to provide citizens critical information related to Covid-19 resources.
Officials said that chatbot number +91-8059312201 has also been activated on WhatsApp on queries regarding sampling, bed availability, vaccination, home isolation, RT-PCR reports and medical team consultations.
Dr Basant Dubey, district immunisation officer of Nuh, said they are facing challenges getting people to come forward for vaccination and testing. “We have involved mobiliser mitras to spread awareness among the villagers to get tested and vaccinated. Villagers are facing issues with online registration and for that, we have tied up with 317 computer operators in different villages who are running customer service centres to help in the registration,” he said. Vaccination for 45+ age group is done through on-the-spot registration at all 17 primary health centres, four community health centres, the government medical college in Nalhar and village routine immunisation session sites . Those in the 18-44 age group need to register online on the CoWin portal.
Dr Dubey said they have written to the state government to allow them to start offline vaccinations across the district. “The vaccination number will increase once the offline process starts and people can walk into these centres,” he said.
Nuh deputy commissioner Dhirendra Khadgata said the WhatsApp chatbot sources information directly from district administration officers. “The helpline will connect villagers to official sources of information and medical services, thus enabling quick access and helping the administration streamline its relief efforts,” he said. The chatbot has processed over 5,000 conversations on WhatsApp from users across the district, including over 1,000 messages sent on Sunday,” he said.
Khadgata said the district has seen vaccine hesitancy to a large degree. “To motivate more people to go for Covid vaccination, we have roped in 100 mobiliser mitras, one at each subcentre, for supporting AAAs (ASHA, anganwadi worker and auxiliary nurse midwife) with activities. The teams are regularly doing activities among the community though there have been instances of aggressive behaviour against even our female field workers in the villages. There are 38 villages where despite our regular mobilisation activities, we could not vaccinate a single individual,” he said.
The district administration has also roped in maulanas and other social figures to create awareness and get more villagers to come forward for vaccination, said officials.
They said since April, they have conducted several meetings at public places, like dhabas, grocery stores, barbershops, and community centres, where villagers were counselled.
Nuh total population is nearly 1.4million and 65% of its population belongs to the15-60 age group. Of the adult population, 237,451 people have been vaccinated with the first dose and 22,847 have been vaccinated with the second dose until May 23.
The district sees around 1,700 Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and RT-PCR tests on average each day, but officials are planning to increase it to 2,000 soon . Till May 23, 4,746 people have tested positive.
Two mobile RT-PCR and RAT sampling vans have been deployed at 22 fixed sites -- primary, and community health centres-- to improve testing. “In containment zones, we are doing sampling every day and trying to reach each house. Currently, our positivity rate is 6.1%( May 22), last week’s average was 7.94% . In the past week, the cumulative report was 1.74% , the lowest in the 22 districts of Haryana,” said Khadgata, adding that the recovery rate of the district is more than 92% and contact tracing is 20%, which is the highest in 22 districts.