Why inoculating all Nilgiri tribals is a big feat in India’s vaccine drive | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The successful vaccination of a largely vaccine-hesitant community of tribal groups in the Nilgiris district, who received their first dose of shots, is a small but not insignificant part of India’s efforts to cover vulnerable groups and protect them from the disease.
The Tamil Nadu government is now on course to administer the second dose to all adults in the 27,000-strong community before any possible third wave, keeping in view that Covid cases among particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) during the second wave became a cause of concern. The risk to these small population groups prompted the state government to launch a special drive in May-June to give 21,351 adult PVTG members their first shot.
As of September 1, 20.5% of those eligible for the second dose have been vaccinated and the district administration hopes to cover all those eligible over the next two months.
The vaccination story in Nilgiris was marked by severe hesitancy in the beginning. As per district collector J Innocent Divya, targeted advocacy to quell myths and doorto-door outreach made these tribes come around.
Home to a population of about 7.2 lakh people, Nilgiris has 27,032 tribal people from six tribes that are part of the 75 PVTGs in India. These tribal groups include Irulas, Kotas, Paniyas, Kattunayakans, Kurumbas and Todas. The latest data shows that 97% of all 5.9 lakh eligible people in the district have taken their first dose and 24% have received their second shot. The health department launched a special drive to counter vaccine hesitancy arising out of misplaced beliefs and fears.“Vaccination was carried out till late in the evenings. Local dialects were used and we first vaccinated the members of tribal council to build confidence,”

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