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Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu achieved 100 per cent Covid-19 vaccination by administering the first dose to all eligible tribal communities and tea-estate workers.
In a report by The Indian Express, Nilgiris Collector J Innocent Divya informed that 21,500 eligible beneficiaries belonging to Toda, Kotha, Kurumba, Paniya, Irula, and the Kattunayakan tribal communities have received their first dose as of Monday, June 28. The remaining 300 eligible people will be vaccinated in a day or two, she added.
Upon his visit earlier this month, Health Minister Ma Subramanian directed the district administration to complete the first dose of vaccination by the end of June.
The district has over 400 tribal hamlets in Nilgiris with a population of 2,75,000. Initially, the people were hesitant and thought that the virus would not affect them. This made the job of health care workers, who set up camps for inoculation, difficult. So as a measure to assure and encourage them to get vaccinated NGOs like Nilgiris Adivasi Welfare Association (NAWA), Nilgiris Wayanad Tribal Welfare Society were brought in, and special vaccination camps were organised. Pushpa Kumar, the secretary of Nilgiris Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups Federation and a community organiser for NAWA, said except for people who were advised against getting vaccinated by the doctors for medical conditions, the rest have been vaccinated. He adds that there are no active cases in the district now.
Kumar explains that owing to the apathy in the tribals for vaccination and the instructions of the collector they had stepped in along with the NGOs and support groups. " We explained the benefits of the vaccination and requested them to convince their community members to get inoculated. Before every vaccination day, we will reach the area to make sure the people are in a good frame of mind to take their shots. These community members came out only after seeing federation volunteers as they are known to them over a period of time," he said, in the report by The Indian Express.
The vaccination drives would start from 8 am and go on till 11 pm each day. Unfavourable terrain or heavy rainfall did not discourage them from carrying out the drive. Kumar recollects how a few volunteers injured themselves while trying to bring people who are afraid of vaccination to the camp. Yet they did not give up.
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