Coronavirus | Tribals in Odisha flee villages fearing inoculation

They are misled by some videos which predicted death within two hours of vaccination, says official

Tribals in Odisha’s Rayagada district fled their village after locking up their houses afraid of being given the COVID-19 vaccine.

The incident took place at Champakana under Kolnara block of Rayagada on Wednesday.

The district administration had held an awareness camp explaining the benefits of inoculation.

“However, when our team reached the village with 100 doses for those above 45, it did not find anyone available. Four to five villagers were not ready to get the jab,” said D. Sailaja, Kolnara medical officer.

Dr. Sailaja said tribals belonging to the Kandh community were apparently misled by some videos, which predicted death within two years of vaccination. The population of Champakana is 500. After three hours of persuasion involving the chieftain, three persons came forward for inoculation.

“During the drive, we have faced similar situation in four to five villages. We hope the vaccine hesitancy will disappear,” she said.

Earlier, the health teams faced stiff resistance in other villages too.

Hesitancy, a major issue

Hesitancy has been a major issue for the district administrations across the State. Last month, the Rayagada district administration had to sit with the Dongria Kondhs, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group, for days to make them agree to vaccination. Close to 1,000 Dongria Kondhs have so far been administered the vaccine.

Similarly, Chuktia Bhunjia, another PVTG residing in Sunabeda plateau Nuapada district, was difficult to be convinced on vaccination. The tribesmen said they would die soon after getting jab.

Odisha has so far managed to administer the first dose to 9,68,188 persons aged between 18 and 44. Only 3,70,095 have received the second dose. While 54,34,038 persons above 45 have been inoculated, 11,22,935 have been given the second dose.

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