Communities living away from the mainland could not avail the COVID-19 vaccine in Biswanath district’s char-chapori areas when India’s vaccination drive started in January. The vaccines finally made it to the floodplains, thanks to a boat vaccination camp in Gohpur.

Bengaluru-based NGO Karuna Trust launched Vivekananda Boat Clinic on June 21 in the Biswanath district. The two-storey clinic will cover the six administrative units of Biswanath and Lakhimpur and aims to serve around 1.17 lakh people residing in the riverine islands of Brahmaputra.

According to the Biswanath District Administration, “This boat clinic will be functional mainly in areas like Lohitmukih, Raunamukh, Paken as well as flood-affected areas, mainly to cater to the rural population.”

The clinic is attached with Vivekananda Base Hospital at Gohpur, which is one of the docking points of boats in the area. This solar powered clinic has an OPD service, pharmacy ward, emergency unit and an obstetrics room where the service will be available free of cost and medicines will be sold at a very discounted rate.

In order to reach out to the population of the riverine islands the Biswanath District Administration started the Boat Vaccination Camp in the Char Chapori areas on July 17.

It targeted mainly the Mishing tribes of the area and many people have turned out for taking their jabs.

Anup Sarmah, Director, NE Karuna Trust told EastMojo, “In the beginning when we started the vaccination drive,  very less number of people turned up for taking their jabs as a result of which vaccines got wasted. But, we have noticed a change in the attitude of the people now and they are coming forward gradually.”

There was disbelief among the villagers that the vaccine might harm them. Many different factors of society instigated them against taking the vaccine. However, by spreading awareness among them we could draw a fairly good number of people till now and to break the myth the NGO has also taken some initiatives such as we have recently recorded a Mishing song to grow more consciousness about the importance of getting vaccinated,” Sarmah added.

About 125 people were vaccinated in the clinic and the response in the Gopaljaroni and Thute Chapori areas has been good. Furthermore, the Vivekananda Boat Clinic hopes to cater health care facilities to the people in the river islands during floods and other emergency situations.

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