Lockdown affects accessibility, reduces awareness in tribal areas

The lockdown across the State has contributed to vaccine hesitancy among the tribal population of the hilly areas of Tirupattur district. With bus services being suspended, the residents have not many options to come down to the plains and this has lead to low awareness about the vaccine among the community.
Lockdown affects accessibility, reduces awareness in tribal areas
Health officials trekking to a tribal hamlet in Tirupattur


Tirupattur accounts for 36 tribal habitations attached to 3 village panchayats with a population of about 30,000. Half of them are in the vaccine eligible age of below 45 years. Despite all efforts, officials could only cover around 2,000 persons of the total population.
Tirupattur DD (Health) TR Senthil said, “in a bid to encourage vaccination among tribals, collector Amar Kuswaha took his second dose at the tribal village of Pudurnadu recently. Despite elected legislators and parliamentarians being pressed into service to create awareness, they are still reluctant to get vaccinated.”
Adding to the problem is that most habitations are scattered and can only be approached by foot. Though a medical facility exists at Pudurnadu and it has enough vaccine stocks to meet all tribal needs, they are reluctant to come, added a senior official seeking anonymity.
“Their main concern is that the vaccine will have an adverse effect on their health. Setting up of a Covid Care Centre (CCC) there needed police help as tribals believed that the virus was spreading from CCCs,” Senthil added.
This has resulted in health officials using all chances to create awareness with doctors interacting with women wherever and whenever possible. “We feel, at this pace, we can soon vaccinate all of the community,” Senthil said.
Meanwhile, nearly 30 per cent of the people have been vaccinated in Dharmapuri, and it is prepared to tackle the third wave with extra beds, Health Minister Ma Subramanian said on Tuesday.
“A vaccination camp is in the plans to inoculate boat drivers and their kin at Hogenakkal. Extra 100 beds and more oxygen cylinders are being set up and a special ward for pregnant women with 200 beds is also ready at a cost of Rs 12 crore,” he added.
In Dharmapuri, the highest number of COVID cases (359) in the second wave was on May 25. “The vaccination target for Dharmapuri is 12,57,760 doses and, so far, 3,80,450 have been administered,” Subramanian said.
He added that the tribal population of the Nilgris has been fully vaccinated, while Krishnagiri is still in the process.

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