Polio eradication drive has run into rough weather as vaccination workers have been facing problems in urban areas, mainly due to lack of awareness or trust.
According to the vaccination centre of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), urban areas require more convincing to get vaccinated than those living in slums. In spite of being educated, urban residents create more nuisance for vaccination workers, while those in slum areas are more receptive to the idea. Vaccination workers, visiting households to give polio drops, face various problems in urban localities, including being stopped by housing society watchmen, families preventing them from entering their houses and even some families preventing their children from being vaccinated.
“In some of the non-slum areas, there is a resistance to vaccination. Sometimes, people clearly instruct their security guards not to allow workers into their society. Also, urban families get so scared at times that they even consult their paediatricians as to whether they should go for vaccination,” said Kinnari Mehta of the health department and in charge of polio vaccination at transit booths.
On the other hand, some workers said that though slum dwellers are illiterate, they are more open-minded. “People in slum areas are willing to go for vaccination and do not require much convincing. The only worry is whether their children would be safe after getting vaccinated.
Common myths like that of a child suffering from fever after vaccination or that the polio drops are contaminated with animal blood is stuff that clouds the minds of the urban populace only,” said a vaccination worker.
So, how does the centre overcome this resistance from the urban population? “Many a time, we need to call our higher-ups like supervisors and deputy health officers to the spot (where workers are facing resistance) to convince such families about the vaccinations.”
Regular rounds of vaccinations and Polio Ravivaar are held in Ahmedabad by the AMC vaccination centre that is a total of seven such rounds per annum. Every year, 1.05 lakh children in the age group of 0-5 years are vaccinated. The centre gives special focus to high-risk areas like migrant population centres and construction workers and immunises them against the polio virus.