Maharashtra: Behind 10-cr vaccination milestone, efforts of 9,200 vaccinators

The Indian Express spoke to some vaccinators about the challenges they face while being at the forefront of the Covid-19 immunisation programme.

Nearly 9,200 vaccinators worked tirelessly over the last 10 months to help Maharashtra achieve the milestone of 10 crore vaccinations. The Indian Express spoke to some vaccinators about the challenges they face while being at the forefront of the Covid-19 immunisation programme.

Ujwala K Paradeshi: ‘Villagers are wary of vaccines, we try to convince them’

Ujwala K Paradeshi starts her day at 7 am. The 30-year-old Auxiliary Nurse Midwife of Chandsami primary health centre of Chopra taluka of Jalgoan sets out with an ice bag on her shoulder to travel 10-25 km to inoculate people.

A vaccinator for 10 years, Ujwala is responsible for vaccinating people from 10 villages including Vatar, Sutkar and Wadgoan. Most days, her husband Praveen Madanlal Paradeshi and two children would accompany her to the villages.

“There is no one to take care of the children, so I can’t leave them alone at home when my husband drops me to the villages on his bike. So, they accompany us for the vaccination,” said Ujwala. “For 6-7 hours, while I was inoculating, they would play with my husband nearby.”

Praveen is a daily labourer, and manages his working hours as per Ujwala’s timings.

On days when her husband fails to ferry her, she travels in buses or ambulances with her two children.

“Ambulances can’t travel on mountain terrain, so the driver drops us to the nearest villages. Then we walk 3-5 km to reach the scattered villages for vaccination,” she said.

With schools reopening last month, her eight-year-old daughter has started going to school again while her two-year-old son accompanies her at work.

The toughest part was the monsoon, when she had to walk to the centres with a raincoat and umbrella.

“The villagers have a notion that vaccines are unsafe. So, through diagrams and figures, we try to convince them but it is an uphill task,” she said.

Sneha Shankar Gade: ‘My son has no cure for his ailment, but I can at least save others from Covid’

In the evenings, when Sneha Shankar Gade returns to her home in Bhayandar, she rushes to the washroom and takes a warm bath to disinfect herself.

The retired 58-year-old nurse takes a look at her son Shashank from a distance.

It has been nearly seven months since she has hugged him.

Due to a neurological disease, Shashank has been bedridden since birth. This has also affected his immunity.

“Every day I am exposed to unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people at the centre, I can’t afford to be near him. If I am a carrier, I may end up infecting him,” says Sneha.

“So, I avoid going near him or even hugging him.”

In January 2021, Sneha retired after working as a nurse for 29 years in Navagaon primary health centre, Dahisar. She would spend her time taking care of her son and doing domestic chores.

Soon, the second Covid wave hit and people were gasping for oxygen and struggling for a hospital bed.

After witnessing this, Sneha decided to step in against her family’s wishes.

“I know how helpless a person feels when they can’t cure their loved ones,” says Sneha.

In May 2021, she was hired as a vaccinator after she requested the local civic health officer.

Every morning, she makes a quick tiffin for the family and rushes to IC Colony vaccination centre, Borivali, leaving her son with her husband.

“My son has no cure for his ailment, but by vaccinating other young people I can at least save them from Covid-19 infection,” she said.

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