Tribals in Odisha's Rayagada district locked up their homes and fled their hamlet, fearful of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination as a medical team arrived in the village. This incident happened in the Champakana area of Rayagada's Kolnara block on Wednesday.
The district government had organized an inoculation awareness camp to discuss the advantages of vaccination.
"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," D. Sailaja, Kolnara medical officer, told The Hindu.
Dr Sailaja said that some Kandh tribals were reportedly misled by videos that foretold death within two years after vaccination. Champakana has a population of 500 people. Three people came up for immunization after three hours of coaxing by the chieftain.
She also shared that during the drive, they have faced a similar situation in four to five villages. She hopes that vaccine hesitancy will disappear from villages soon.
Previously, the health teams had met with similar opposition and apprehension in neighbouring areas as well.
For district administrations around the state, hesitancy has been a huge concern. The Rayagada district government had to sit with the Dongria Kondhs, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group, for days last month to persuade them to accept immunization. The vaccination has been given to over 1,000 Dongria Kondhs so far.
Similarly, Chuktia Bhunjia, a PVTG from the Sunabeda plateau in the Nuapada area, proved resistant to vaccination. The tribesmen predicted that they would die shortly after receiving the jab.
So far, 9,68,188 people between the ages of 18 and 44 have received the first dosage in Odisha. The second dosage has only been given to 3,70,095 people. A total of 54,34,038 people over the age of 45 had been immunized, with 11,22,935 receiving the second dosage.