In a first of its kind campaign in the country, aimed at combating Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy and the spread of falsehoods and misinformation , Women Doctors Wing, Indian Medical Association, Jharkhand, has joined hands with Swachh Bharat Mission and UNICEF to sensitise some 30,000 Sahiyas or women health care volunteers from all over Jharkhand.
The move aims to spread the good word that the Covid vaccine was safe for all, build trust amongst the rural population, and encourage rural women to take better care of themselves.
As part of the sensitisation programme, nearly 30,000 Sahiyas were linked to a virtual online meeting with Dr. Ravi Kashyap, Professor, University of Illinois College of Medicine, USA for a direct question and answer session in which Dr.Kashyap dispelled many fears and falsehoods, wildly circulating through word of mouth and the social media, regarding the Covid vaccine.
Sahiyas were also made aware of the preliminary symptoms of cervical cancer - the most common form of cancer deaths amongst women, sanitation and hygiene, sexual behaviour and importance of organ donation particularly eye donation.
Also put online, were women doctors from all over the country, who were encouraged to replicate the Jharkhand example in their own states, to combat people's skepticism and vaccine misinformation.
"Is the vaccine safe for lactating mothers? Does the vaccine cause infertility? Is it safe for pregnant women to take the vaccine? Can one do away with masks after two jabs? Does the vaccine cause Covidinfection? "
These were some of the questions posed by the Sahiyas. Speaking virtually from Illinois, USA, Dr. Ravi Kashyap assured the women health care volunteers that the Covid-19 vaccine was safe for everyone and that all should line up for their jabs at the earliest to beat the Covid virus. Dr. Kashyap however warned that till the time most people got their vaccines, wearing masks when outdoors, avoiding large gatherings and proper hand sanitisation, would be necessary, to remain safe.
The online awareness programme was coordinated by Dr. Bharti Kashyap, President, Women Doctors Wing, Indian Medical Association, Jharkhand and Nancy Sahay, IAS and director, Swachh Bharat Mission, Jharkhand.
" To beat the deadly virus and ensure success of the vaccination drive amongst 18 to 44-year old, in the backdrop of a rapid country wide surge in Covidinfections, we shall continue our war against COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and vaccine skepticism, by extending our outreach to the rural areas and getting more and more people to join our campaign," said Bharti Kashyap.