State govt asks Pune, other districts to bridge gender gap in Covid vaccination
The state health department has asked district health officials to take measures to reduce the gender gap in the Covid-19 vaccination drive as multiple districts, including Pune and Mumbai have reported a much higher gap than the state average of eight per cent as of September 8.
The districts with higher vaccination gender gap are Raigad (15%), Mumbai (14%), Aurangabad (12%), Pune (11%), Ahmednagar (10%), Nashik (10%), Thane (10%), Palghar (10%) and Solapur (9%).
As of September 8, 35.53 million men (54%) have got the vaccine as compared to 30.03 million women (46%) in the state. The gap is even more among the third gender as only 12,047 people or 0.2% in the third gender category have got the vaccine in the last nine months since the vaccination drive began in Maharashtra.
Lack of access to the vaccine and hesitancy are some of the problems leading to the vaccine gender gap between men and women, say experts.
Dr Archana Salve, a gynaecologist with Pune based Apollo Hospital, said, “Many women patients come to me when they are pregnant, lactating or even those who are trying to get pregnant. There is a certain misconception among these women that the vaccine may have a negative impact on their fertility or milk production. The government has repeatedly said that the vaccine is completely safe for everyone to take.”
“Some women are sceptical of taking the vaccine during their menstrual cycle and so they delay taking the vaccine,” she said.
“Also, while most men take it because it has been made mandatory for work purposes, women who are housewives do not have it mandatory as such to take the vaccine,” she said.
Another primary reason for fever women beneficiaries is the fact that women give second priority to their own health over their families health.
Dr Vaishali Jadhav, assistant health officer, PMC, said, “Women always wait until the last moment when their family members get their vaccines. They keep delaying it.”
“The perception that vaccines could lead to side effects like fever and body pain which would delay their household chores for a day or two and so we sometimes have to force them to take another vaccine if one is causing more side effects. Until all the men in the house get vaccinated and the women are assured that the family would not suffer due to after effect following immunisation (AEFI), women would continue to remain out of the vaccination drive,” she said.
Only two districts in the state - Bhandara and Gondia - have seen more women being inoculated than men with a negative difference of -1% and -2% respectively.
The two districts have a higher tribal population compared to the rest of the districts in the state while metropolitan districts like Mumbai and Pune have seen a wider gap among women and men beneficiaries.