“Initially, I was afraid of getting the vaccine, as I had a misconception that this might kill me! But when Sabita Didi counselled me and convinced me that this vaccine would protect me, I made up my mind to go for the shot. I am thankful to Save the Children and Sabita Didi“, says 19-year-old Deepa Kumari.
Deepa lives in Musarsabda village in the Gaya district of Bihar, India. Save the Children has been implementing the programme Sashakt Kishori in this intervention area. Her father, Satendra Prasad, is a farmer and the only earning member of the family and her mother is a homemaker.
The Government of India had opened up the COVID vaccination programme for all adult population from 1st May onwards. Initially, many families, including Deepa’s, were against the government’s vaccine drive, as they had a misconception that it will affect their health adversely. Deepa and her family were so misinformed that she feared that the vaccine would result in death as per the rumours they used to hear daily in their village.
Deepa was contacted by Sabita Devi, one of Save the Children’s Cluster Coordinators in our project team. She explained that the vaccine is critical for protection against COVID-19. Sabita told her that she should ensure that everyone in her family takes the vaccine to protect from COVID -19 and the complications related to it that may lead to fatality in the future.
The Cluster Coordinator had further counselled Deepa that there is a possibility of a third wave that might affect young people. After learning more myths and facts about the vaccine, Deepa finally decided to take her first dose of the vaccine and convinced her family and peers. Our team supported her in the registration process at the nearby vaccine camp in her village, and she took the vaccine.
After five days, Deepa was contacted by our field team members for an update on her health. She said that she is fine and has further motivated her friend Khusboo Kumari to take the vaccine.
Khusboo and her mother, Manju Devi, also took the vaccine after Deepa explained its importance. Further, Deepa has mobilised six more people in her peer group to take their first dose of vaccine. She is presently a great motivator among her peers and her community to get registered and receive the first dose of the COVID vaccine to protect against this deadly virus.
Talking about it, Sabita, the field coordinator from our Sashakt Kishori project in Bihar, India, said, “People in our village are fearing the vaccination, as there were cases of people getting infection even after their first dose. Thus all involved with the project took a pledge that we have to bust all the myths. We convinced the parents with the help of girls like Deepa, which helped break the misconception.”
She further added, “We ensured that during awareness sessions with the youth and community, we involve some doctors on call to break the myth and misconception that are prevailing around vaccination.”
Village Headman of Deepa’s village says, “We were scared to have the vaccine, as we found that some of our neighbours had fallen sick after taking the first dose of the vaccine. Thus we had decided that we would not be taking vaccines. But when Save the Children’s team made us aware and broke our misconceptions around vaccination, we all went it for it. I am thankful to them for their support, and now as the head of the village, I would try to ensure that every adult in my village takes the vaccine“.
“Being vaccinated gives me confidence. Like my friend Deepa, I am also advocating and making my peers understand the need to be vaccinated” says a happy Khusboo Kumari (Deepa’s Friend).
Save the Children, has initiated a community level sensitisation process by maintaining all COVID appropriate protocol even amid state-wide lockdown to ensure communities maintain COVID appropriate behaviour, go for necessary testing and isolation. We are advocating with the local administration to provide easy availability of COVID medication to those who are testing positive at home to ensure home isolation. We are also engaging youth advocates like Deepa to motivate and mobilise their peers and family members to get registered on the Co-Win App for vaccination and eventually get vaccinated.
Sashakt Kishori is a project getting implemented in the Gaya district of Bihar province of India. The project aims to contribute to meeting adolescent girls’ needs in identified geography through a smooth transition of adolescent girls to adulthood by building their individual vocational and life skills capacities and fostering an enabling and adolescent-sensitive policy environment. This project aims to contribute to achieving the following in the target location.
Save the Children advocates with the local self-government to raise mass awareness for vaccination of young adults and eventually ever adult citizens.
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