K'taka's rural areas may see door-to-door vaccine drive

Amid vaccine hesitancy, Karnataka's rural areas may see door-to-door drive

Hospital authorities say they administer vaccines only if there are 10 people registering on a day

People wait in a long queue for Covid-19 vaccine in Chikkamagaluru, Karnataka, on August 27, 2021. Credit: PTI File Photo

The state government’s announcement to increase the daily vaccination target to five lakh doses comes as a relief, especially in rural areas where officials are struggling to inoculate the eligible population.

Despite widespread campaigns on the benefit of Covid-19 shots, vaccine hesitancy, shortage of doses at rural primary health centres (PHCs) and the challenges faced by private hospitals in administering the jabs have made the process difficult.

Local authorities say these factors could make the drive more challenging in the coming days and door-to-door vaccination might become necessary.

In the villages of Belthangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, many are yet to receive their first dose seven months into the vaccination campaign.

“There are people who say vaccines are not safe. So, I have not got a shot,” says 62-year-old Rahmath (name changed) of Killur village. “Where is the virus? Covid is like any ordinary fever,” argues 48-year-old vendor Satish. Both of them are yet to receive their first dose.

Read | 5.6% dip in Karnataka's weekly Covid cases despite increased testing

At the nearest PHC, vaccines are available only twice a week, says Zakir from Navoor. “I went once but didn’t get a shot as the vials allocated to the PHC were emptied by then. You can’t expect me to stand in front of the hospital and then not give me a shot. What about the day I lost,” the daily-wage labourer asks.

Many private hospitals in the taluk administer vaccines only if 10 people register on any given day. Smitha, a resident of Belal, says she had to visit the private hospital thrice for the vaccine. “I had to return on two occasions as there weren’t enough people registering for paid vaccination,” she says.

Hospital authorities say they administer vaccines only if there are 10 people registering on a day. “Or else, vaccines in the vial are wasted, against which there are specific directions.”

A Panchayat Development Officer (PDO), under the condition of anonymity, admits that vaccine hesitancy is a problem. “Fake news has created a problem. We are convincing as many as we can to get their shots,” he says. However, it might become essential to do door-to-door vaccination especially in some rural pockets, he adds.

Dr Kishore Kumar M, District Health Officer, Dakshina Kannada, says vaccine hesitancy is a smaller issue compared to vaccine availability. “Hesitancy is less. There have been some constraints due to vaccine availability,” he says, adding that the number of doses allotted to the district had increased over the past week.

Vehicle arrangements were made for senior citizens who could not go to a vaccination centre. Door-to-door campaigns might be required in coming days, he says.

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