Akshay Gilbert and Shahina Khatun
No one is safe unless everyone is safe in this global pandemic. In a CSR-supported project implemented by S M Sehgal Foundation under the program theme of local participation and sustainability in district Nuh, Haryana, community members attempted to curb the prevalent myths and vaccine phobia by spreading awareness about the advantages of COVID-19 vaccination.
COVID-19 vaccination myths and misconceptions regarding side-effects made the process of vaccination quite a complex one. Convincing the rural communities to get vaccines emerged as a daunting challenge in many areas. Awareness sessions on the importance of vaccination to control the spread of COVID-19 were conducted with the members of the Village Leadership School and the Nutrition Awareness groups. Subsequently, a handful of active community leaders who are trained in these groups, took the lead in further spreading the message among approximately 200 households. They encouraged the fellow villagers with the required information on vaccination, its advantages, and probable mild side effects.
The awareness-generation initiative by active community members motivated 53 individuals to shed their fear and get vaccinated in a drive organized in the village government school in April 2021. The vaccinated people became living examples of breaking the vaccine related myths, and positively impacted others in the community. “I was delighted to see that within a week, Rehana, Aseeni, Ruksaar, Atta Mohammad’s efforts successfully mobilized over 53 people for vaccination as earlier vaccine hesitancy was very high in the village,” says Ms. Deepti, Auxiliary Nurse Midwife in the village.
(Authors Akshay and Shahina are project associates with S M Sehgal Foundation)