Minority affairs ministry to counter vaccine hesitancy among communities
The Union ministry of minority affairs has begun a pan-India campaign to tackle concerns and myths about the inoculation drive that have resulted in vaccine hesitancy among minority communities.
According to an official aware of the details, a national level awareness campaign has been organised especially in areas that have a high percentage of minorities and where people have shown reluctance to take the vaccines to prevent the Covid-19 infection.
“In some areas the ministry is relying on women’s self-help groups to drive away misconceptions about the vaccines. The ministry has also reached out to religious and social organisations to help remove doubts and fears about the vaccines,” said the official quoted above.
More than 3.84 lakh women, who have been provided training under Nai Roushn scheme, and Women Self Help Groups associated with them have been running the campaign to create awareness about the Covid-19 pandemic and are now being roped in to create awareness about the benefits of the vaccine.
Citing an example of areas with vaccine hesitancy, the official said administration in several districts of Uttar Pradesh such as Sultanpur, Amethi, Aligarh and Moradabad and in Haryana’s Mewat has reported reluctance towards vaccines based on dogmas, religious reasons and rumours.
“In Moradabdad because of locals not turning up for vaccines, we found people from the cities showing up for inoculation. Since the administration is making efforts, vaccine hesitancy is slowly ebbing. It also helps that Islamic countries have said they won’t allow entry without vaccines. Even for performing Haj, pilgrims will need to be vaccinated and should not have been hospitalised six months prior to travel,” the official said.
The official said in some areas such vaccine hesitancy was promoted by the statements of some opposition leaders who raised doubts about the Indian vaccines. “In Amethi and Rae Bareily some people said since the Congress leaders have not taken the vaccines, they too were skeptical of taking the shots,” the official said. The BJP has accused SP leader and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav of promoting vaccine hesitancy by dubbing the Indian vaccines as “BJP vaccines”.
Union minister Prahlad Joshi told news agency ANI, “When we started vaccination in January, Congress leaders raised questions on vaccine efficacy. Now, they’re taking the vaccine. As per my knowledge, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi haven’t taken the vaccine. They don’t have confidence in the Indian vaccine.”
The ministry is also using NGOs, engaged in running various healthcare programmes under the Garib Nawaz Self Employment Scheme, Seekho aur Kamao etc, to assist the administration in carrying out tests and spreading awareness about Covid-19 appropriate behaviour in rural areas.
“The campaign is regularly being monitored by a task force comprising of senior officials of the ministry,” said the official.
The ministry will also focus on training of health care workers. “In the past 2 years, we have provided health sector training to 1.12 lakh youths. These skilled and trained youths are working in various hospitals and other healthcare centres and assisting in the treatment of Covid-19 affected people,” the official said.