A video from Uttar Pradesh of an elderly woman hiding behind a drum to dodge a Covid vaccine team, shared widely on social media, underscores the big challenge of inoculating people in parts of rural India.
BJP MLA Sarita Bhadauria and a Health Department team went to Chandanpur village in Etawah for a vaccination and awareness drive on Tuesday. When they reached a house in the village, they managed to meet a few people but Har Devi, in her 80s, first hid behind a door and then ran behind a large drum in the house, apparently to avoid the vaccine jab. In visuals, the woman is seen crouched behind a drum inside a dark room.
“The vaccination people have come. Where are you, amma?” someone is heard saying in the video.
But the woman refuses to move.
“The MLA is here. Please come out,” one of the health workers urges.
A doctor then approaches the woman and coaxes her to come out. “I am a doctor. I am not here to give you an injection. We are here just to speak with you. At least come and listen to your MLA,” the doctor says.
Eventually, the woman comes out of her “hiding place” and meets the MLA. She was vaccinated that same day.
“People are a little unaware in the villages. Many officials were with me, and we were encouraging people to get vaccinated. The woman was first at the door, but on seeing us she ran and hid behind a drum. She was scared,” Ms Bhadauria said in an interview later that evening.
“She said she had been told she would get high fever and other bad things would happen. I think there is a crying need to have awareness campaigns in villagers,” the MLA told reporters.
Uttar Pradesh’s pace of COVID-19 vaccination is among the lowest of all big states. Only 2 per cent of the total state population has been fully vaccinated. UP has administered 1.8 crore vaccine doses in three months and the number of fully vaccinated people in the state is just 35 lakh – about 2 per cent of UP’s massive population of over 23 crore.