The worsening flood situation in Assam has made the task of health workers carrying out Covid vaccination drive even more challenging. These health workers have to take boat rides to vaccinate thousands who live on chars and chaporis – riverine islands that dot the Brahmaputra river.
NDTV travelled with one such team. The target of this team is Tapobori char – a riverine island – and to vaccinate 600 people living there before the floods completely cut it off. Kamrup district has 55,000 people living on 27 islands waiting for the jab.
“Now since there is floods the challenge is one level higher; our front line workers have to be always in the flood waters while even vaccinating,” said Monika Deka Dutta, the Block Programme Manager (BPM) of National Health Mission (HNM) at Hajo of Assam’s Kamrup district, 40 km west of Guwahati.
The vaccination camps are either under the shade of a tree or on the boat itself. Doubly challenging is poor connectivity and vaccine hesitancy among some villagers.
“We are afraid to take the vaccine, some people say we will have fever for four days. So we are worried,” said Motiur Rahman, a resident of the Topabori char.
“Once we open the vial, we need to inject at least 10 people within 4 hours. Sometimes convincing them is difficult. As mobile internet connectivity is patchy on island, the CoWIN registrations take a lot of time,” Kabita Phukan, the lead vaccinator of the medical team told NDTV.
There were some encouraging voices too.
“This is a good effort and since the team is here people’s fear will also go away,” said Abdul Jalil, who took his first vaccine shot.
Assam reported 573 new Covid cases and 11 deaths over the last 24 hours.