A primary school teacher from West Bengal's Bardhaman district took up the daunting task of getting at least 500 tribal women, which included senior citizens and lactating mothers, inoculated with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Deep Narayan Nayak had to bridge several gaps including the digital divide and vaccine hesitancy to achieve the feat.
The 34-year-old teacher, fondly known as 'Raster Master' which means teacher of the streets, has been making headlines for his unique way of imparting education, free of cost, to the tribal children amid the pandemic.
As per The Tribune, Nayak conducted a survey at villages around the school where he teaches. He found that a majority of the residents had not been vaccinated against coronavirus and had been hesitant about getting jabbed. The teacher shared that since he was helping the children of the village, he had a positive influence on their parents and the villagers.
"I found that even though the government was pressing for everyone to take the vaccine, particularly women, as there is an apprehension of a third wave, none of the tribal women in the villages was vaccinated. This, not only made them vulnerable, but even their children were at risk," Nayak told Hindustan Times.
Vaccine Rath For Getting Jabs
Names of more than 500 women were on the list who had to be vaccinated, according to Nayak. Registering their names on the Cowin app posed another challenge, however, he arranged for spare smartphones from his friends and family for the purpose.
On the day of vaccination, Nayak hired a school bus and renamed it 'Vaccine Rath' that ferried the beneficiaries to the vaccination centre. As per reports, they were picked up from the village in phases and taken to the primary health centre, around 10 kilometres away, to get their first dose. They were dropped back to the village after vaccination.
Nayak followed up with the beneficiaries —visiting houses and enquiring if they faced any post-vaccination adverse health conditions.
"It was really a challenging task. Nayak single-handedly counselled the tribal women as they were afraid of taking the vaccine, registered them on the app and arranged a vehicle to ensure that at least 500 get the first jab. Now, more women from adjoining villages are coming," stated Dr Abinash Besra, Block Medical Officer of Health at Jamuria, as per Hindustan Times.