Covid vaccination: Wading across flooded nullah to reach people at their doorstep

28

By Bunty Mahajan

Jammu: If people don’t come to the vaccination centre for taking the jab, you take it to their doorstep. This strategy finally helped Health officials achieve 100 per cent vaccination in border Rajouri district’s Kandi block where majority population were not prepared to take the jab in view of apprehensions about the vaccine.

However, reaching out to the people was not so easy in the area where a sizeable population lived far away from motorable roads. The health workers including ASHA workers walked through swollen nullahs and trekked treacherous hilly terrains for hours daily to make the vaccination drive a success.

Jameela, 25, an ASHA worker whose video crossing a swollen nullah along with a health department employee went viral on social media, hardly drew a monthly wages of more than Rs 2,000.

Significantly, two school children had washed away in the same nullah in 2019. “I had to cross it as people across it were waiting for vaccination,’’ she said when asked whether she felt scared while wading across the flooded nullah.

In a block where sizeable areas don’t have roads, crossing rivers or nullahs on foot was not the only challenge. Health workers had to trek treacherous hilly terrains for three to four hours to reach people.

After successfully vaccinating all the people above 44 age, they have now started vaccinating people in the age group of 18-44 years,

“To vaccinate the targeted population and return to the primary health centre, we start early in the morning,’’ Jameela said, adding that she leaves home at Sangaot at 6 am daily as she has to first visit the Prime Health Centre at Tralla for picking up the vaccine. It takes her two hours walk on hilly terrain and through a seasonal nullah to reach there.

Married and mother of three children including a girl in the age group of 4 – 8 years, she returns home late in the evening. “We have to walk minimum 5-6 hours daily to cover the targeted people and then return to the PHC,’’ she said.

Block Health Officer, Kandi, Dr Iqbal Malik, initially there had been no response to the vaccination programme held at five primary health centres in the block as the local population had their own apprehensions about the vaccine.

“As people were not coming forward to take the jab, I decided to carry the vaccination drive to their doorsteps. However, before doing it, we first roped in local moulvis and faith leaders and got announcements made from mosques telling people that vaccine was safe,’’ he said. The health workers too carried out a door to door campaign for nearly a fortnight convincing people for the vaccination, he said, adding that after doing all the ground work, “we finally started vaccinating people right at their door step and there was not even a single people who had any complications’’.