Few people take Covid-19 jabs in LumbiniMost of the people are hesitant to get the vaccine fearing the side effects, according to health workers.
A 62-year-old man from Khoriya village in Yashodhara Rural Municipality-8, Kapilvastu, was to visit a local vaccination centre for his first dose of Covid-19 jab.
The vaccine was administered on Tuesday and Wednesday. But he decided not to get it.
“I fear the vaccine might not be suitable for me,” he said.
The government has decided to inoculate the people of 62-64 age group with the one million doses of Vero Cell Covid-19 vaccine provided by the Chinese government on a grant. But many people in Lumbini Province seem to be fearful of the vaccine.
Owing to the low participation, various local units in the province have decided to extend the vaccination drive by a couple of days.
Kapilvastu is one of the worst Covid-19 affected districts in the province. The district has reported a total of 170 Covid-19 deaths since May.
“The number of people visiting vaccination centres was quite low in the first two days. The District Health Office extended the drive by one more day but the footfall on the third day was also dismal,” said Umesh Ghimire, the Covid-19 control focal person at the District Health Office.
According to him, only around 30 percent of the target group were vaccinated on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Of the 1,000 doses provided to Karishnanagar Municipality, only 570 doses were administered while Suddhdhan Rural Municipality used 500 of total 730 doses and Maharajgunj used just half of 1,000 doses.
According to the health workers, people are hesitant to get the jab due to various rumours about the side effects of the vaccine.
Birendra Mishra, coordinator of Health Unit in Yasodhara Rural Municipality, said, “There is a lot of misinformation and confusion about Covid-19 vaccines. We are launching an awareness campaign to dispel such mistruths and assuage the people’s fear about vaccines.”
In Rupandehi, the District Health Office provided 479 doses of vaccines to Rohini Rural Municipality to be used on the first day of the drive, but few people took the vaccine.
“People did not visit the vaccination centres although they were informed about the vaccination drive. Almost everybody is hesitant to take the jab,” said Sanoj Kumar Yadav, the chairman of the rural municipality.
Lumbini Sanskritik Municipality, another local unit in Rupandehi, has set up five vaccination centres.
According to Dhrubaraj Ghimire, the health unit chief of the local unit, out of 1,391 vaccine candidates, only 1,078 people showed up at the vaccination centres.
“We had to return 313 vaccine doses because some people did not want the shot,” said Ghimire. “Most people fear the side effects of the vaccine and it’s difficult to change their mindset.”
Narainapur Rural Municipality in Banke aimed to inoculate 536 people on Wednesday, but only 45 of them got the vaccine.
“It was the same on Thursday,” said Nagendra Kumar Sah, chief of the local health centre. “We returned the leftover vaccine doses to the district health office.”
Narainapur had become a Covid-19 hotspot last year, but the local population is still hesitant to get vaccinated against the disease.
In Rupandehi, the District Health Office aims to inoculate 1,455 individuals. The vaccination drive is underway at 69 vaccination centres of 16 local units for the last three days.
“The vaccine doses have been sent to the local units on the basis of population distribution. Until Thursday, 11, 500 vials have been used in Rupandehi,” said Dr Rajendra Giri, chief at the District Health Office. “The local units will return the remaining vaccine doses to the District Health Office. They will be administered to the health workers.”
The vaccination drive is also ongoing in Nawalparasi (West). According to the District Health Office in Nawalparasi (West), only 40 percent of the population were inoculated in the last three days.
In Palhinandan Rural Municipality, out of 620 individuals, only 200 got vaccinated in the last three days.
“People are hesitant to receive the jab. Most people don’t trust the vaccine and are waiting for other people to get vaccinated first. The rate of people getting vaccinated is also low in Susta, Pratappur and Sarawal Rural Municipalities in Nawalparasi (West),” said Dharmajit Patel, an auxiliary health worker of the rural municipality.
In the last three days, only 600 people out of 1,100 from the target group took the Covid-19 jabs in Bardaghat Municipality.
“We are conducting the vaccination campaign from two centres. Around 200 individuals are receiving the vaccine on a daily basis. The campaign will end within one to two days,” said Madhab Gyawali, chief at the health unit of the municipality.
“The campaign is more effective in town areas compared to rural villages. We have started awareness campaigns in rural areas with the help of women health volunteers.”
Krishna Prasad Pokharel, chief at the District Health Office in Nawalparasi (West), said few people from the target group in the rural areas have visited the vaccination centres.
“We are discussing with the local people’s representatives to figure out what is causing the vaccine hesitancy. We are also planning to extend the vaccination drive by a few more days.”
(Sanju Paudel in Rupandehi, Thakur Singh Tharu in Nepalgunj and Nabin Paudel in Parasi contributed reporting)