A Covid vaccination drive has begun in Nagada village of Odisha's Jajpur district after reports around a fortnight ago that many tribals were suffering from fever in the backward hilltop villages that had hogged headlines for a series of child malnutrition deaths in 2016.
The district administration kick-started the drive in the village as a precautionary measure even as no Covid case has been detected in the tribal hamlet yet. The camp was organised at the Tala Nagada Anganwadi centre.
It had set a target of vaccinating around 250 adults -- 200 in Nagada and 50 from neighbouring hamlets Tumuni and Guhiasal.
A total of 176 tribals or 70.4 per cent of the target got the first jab in a peaceful and smooth manner on Monday, of which 106 are men and the rest women, officials said.
Though the residents of Nagada were initially reluctant to take the vaccine and avoided coming to the camp, they later cooperated, said Sukinda, community health centre, superintendent, Jayadev Nanda.
"We persuaded them with great difficulties by convincing them that nothing harmful will happen if they take the jab. After a great effort by the medical staff, they decided to take the vaccine at the camp," Nanda said.
Desa Pradhan, 28, of Tala Nagada village was the first person to take the jab at the camp, agreeing to take the shot after much persuasion by Nanda.
The official himself administered the vaccine on Pradhan, following which others agreed to go to the booth.
"I was scared before taking the vaccine," Pradhan said. "However, when the doctor 'babu' gave me assurance that he would administer the vaccine to me, I built confidence in myself and agreed to take it."
Situated on a hilltop in Sukinda block, around 100 km north of Bhubaneswar, Nagada is divided into three parts -- Tala Nagada, Upara Nagada and Majhi Nagada.
Around 63 households comprising 320 people belonging to the Juanga tribe reside in the three hamlets. Juanga is one of the 13 particularly vulnerable tribal groups in the state.
After reports of fever two weeks ago, a special medical team was pressed in to conduct screening and health check-up of the inhabitants.
It had collected 51 blood samples from those suffering from fever. Five children were diagnosed with malaria, while 17 were found to have viral fever.
Last week, the district administration had launched an awareness programme to educate the tribals about Covid-19, the use of masks and maintaining social distance as a precautionary measure against the virus.