Shortage of vaccine hits immunisation drive in Kozhikode’s tribal settlements

Poor awareness among community also poses a hurdle

The shortage of COVID-19 vaccine and the difficulties in scheduling it for priority segments have badly affected the immunisation drive for Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities in Kozhikode district.

People above the age of 60 are the worst hit, with only 84 out of the 846 senior citizens receiving both doses of the vaccine so far. Though the total number of ST beneficiaries above the age of 18 in the district is 8,139, the number of fully vaccinated persons is only 234 as of June 2. As many as 5,797 persons in the projected list of beneficiaries are yet to get their first shot.

Sources with the Scheduled Tribes Development Department said the delay in getting the required stock of vaccines would affect the safety of tribespeople, who were often found reluctant to follow physical distancing rules and other safety protocol in their settlements. So far, 606 persons had contracted the virus in Kozhikode, and four of them died due to COVID-19. Many are still undergoing treatment in various first-line treatment centres.

Poor awareness among tribal communities about the effect of vaccines is also posing a hurdle for health workers and ST Department officials involved in the special drive. There is also fear among some tribespeople to receive the vaccine. “Many have been found hiding or fleeing from the spot on seeing the vaccination teams. There is a lot of struggle to reach them for inoculation purposes,” said an official.

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