95-year-old farmer urges others to get vaccinated, says ‘must protect ourselves’
Karnal resident Chaudhary Bichha Ram, 95, says that the Covid-19 vaccine has not only given him protection against the disease, it is also helping him lead a normal life. “I got to know that Covid-19 vaccines have been developed but did not expect to get it so soon,” Bichha Ram said. He was administered the first dose of the Covishield vaccine on March 19 at the Banso Gate primary health centre in Karnal.
The reports of some beneficiaries battling side-effects were a cause of concern for the elderly farmer as well. “But I cannot stay away from my family, especially from my grandchildren, so I decided to take the vaccine to protect myself from the virus despite rumours about side effects,” Bichha Ram said.
He lives with his family of six, including his son, two daughters-in-law, and two grandsons.
His son, Ritesh Arya, 50, who is a farmer and also property consultant in Karnal, took Bichha Ram for a walk-in vaccination session.
“The doctors and nurses were very supportive, and explained everything. As we were talking, the medics pulled up my sleeve and inoculated me quickly,” Bichha Ram said. He was also asked for a photo with the staff, being the eldest person at the centre to get vaccinated.
Recalling how his family wsa forced to stay isolated in the past one year since the pandemic struck, he said, “Nature has its own ways, and nobody can change these rules. But we should protect ourselves. I am 95, but even I don’t want to die.”
Interestingly, Bichha Ram has been an advocate of Ayurveda since he suffered a stroke in 2008. He said doctors and scientists “have done a wonderful job” with Covid vaccines. “It’s nonsense to say the vaccine is not safe, people should at least show respect for those who worked day and night to save mankind.”
His family said that Bichha Ram has now become an inspiration for others.
“If a 95-year-old man can come forward to take the jab, why should the others fear?” asked Meenu Arya, his daughter-in-law.
So far, more than 2 million people have been vaccinated across Haryana, said Rajeev Arora, the state additional chief secretary, health.
Of these about 310,000 frontline and health care workers have received the first dose, and about 157,000 have received the second dose. More than 1.54 million people in the above-60 and 45-59 categories have been vaccinated, Arora said.
India opened up its vaccination drive to all people above 45 last week. The previous two phases of the drive — the first was aimed at frontline workers and the second at those above 60, or above 45 with comorbidities – were dogged by slow roll-out, teething problems, vaccine hesitancy, and misinformation. But people such as Bichha Ram are a testimony to the importance of taking the jab.