A far-flung hamlet in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tirap district has become the first village in the frontier state to vaccinate its entire adult population against COVID-19.
The remote New Tupi village under Longo administrative circle in the state’s Tirap district achieved the commendable feat on Wednesday after 100% of the villagers falling under the 45 years and above category were inoculated with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
New Tupi, which has around 80 households, is around 15kms from Khonsa, the headquarters of Tirap district. The 15km journey, however, takes anywhere between 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on weather conditions and the rough terrain.
Speaking to EastMojo, Longo circle officer Ripi Doni said, “Though the adult population of New Tupi village is only 69, it, however, took them more than two months to convince people to get themselves vaccinated.”
Doni said the administrative and medical teams had been trying to convince the people to take the COVID-19 vaccine since April; however, they were always unwilling to take the jab.
“When we tried to convince the locals to take the COVID-19 jab, they always came up with excuses, mostly based on fake news and rumours. There were also a few villagers who were certain that they would die if they took the vaccine, thanks to fake WhatsApp forwards and other false information being shared on social media,” Doni said.
The circle officer said the other reason for the villagers not turning up for the vaccination drive was because most of them are engaged in farming activities and they considered it to be more important than the vaccine.
“After trying all possible means we decided to carry out one to one counselling, and that took a long time. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the medical team, local leaders and most importantly the ASHA workers, we were finally able to get the entire village fully inoculated on Wednesday,” Doni said while adding that the same process would be followed in all the other villages of the Longo circle which has around 13 villages.
Carrying out vaccination drives in Arunachal, especially in remote areas, has always been a constant challenge for the administrative and medical teams of the state due to the possible lack of understanding and hesitancy among the people.
Administrative officers have resorted to strategies like giving away free rice and carrying out door to door awareness programmes to get the population vaccinated.