The Nuh administration has taken up several initiatives as it looks to drive up Covid-19 vaccinations in the Haryana district with the lowest inoculation rate.
According to data from the conference of state health ministers in October, Nuh was among India’s 48 lowest performing districts on vaccine coverage.
Data from the Nuh district administration till November 22 showed that the first-dose coverage was at 50.2% against an all-India rate of 82%. The district’s second-dose coverage was at 10.8% against 44% across India. Of the district’s 435 villages, only 38 have been vaccinated fully. Haryana, on the other hand, has vaccinated 90% of its adult population with the first dose and over 46% with both doses.
Earlier in November, the Nuh administration decided to go all out to increase vaccination rates — from door-to-door jabs to a plethora of incentives such as discounts on medicines, dinner sets, and helmets.
The push has now started to pay off with the daily vaccination rate rising to 15,000 in November from an average 250 in June, officials told The Indian Express. On Thursday, Nuh vaccinated 15,918 people — 14,386 first doses and 1,532 second doses.
Nuh Deputy Commissioner Captain Shakti Singh said the authorities set up a monitoring committee with influential villagers — ex-sarpanchs, clerics, women self-help groups — to mobilise people.
The committee undertook awareness programmes and dispelled myths about the vaccine and informed the authorities where to send vaccinator teams. The administration also arranged for vehicles to ferry eligible people after it was found that lack of public transport had become a deterrent.
The authorities are now sending teams to agriculture fields to enhance vaccine coverage since the sowing season is on. The pilot programme began in Punhana.
Local religious leaders were also roped in and asked to make announcements from temple and mosque loudspeakers, persuading people to get their shots.
Singh said the administration also tied up with traders for the incentive programme. Some petrol pump dealers are offering discounts of 50 paise a litre to vaccinated people, who only need to show their vaccination certificates. The local chemists’ association has agreed to offer a 5% discount to partially vaccinated and a 10% discount to fully vaccinated.
The authorities are also talking to local automobile dealers for schemes to provide free helmets and dinner sets to vaccinated individuals buying a motorcycle. Singh added that they had introduced a policy where only vaccinated people would be allowed to distribute ration.
Local celebrities such as reality show singer Salman Ali recorded a video message asking eligible individuals to get vaccinated.
The official said Nuh’s low literacy levels (35% literacy among women and 56% among men) and lack of education were major reasons for low vaccination rates. The other reasons are orthodoxy and rumour mongering. People would rather listen to the cleric than officials or doctors.
Singh added that the state government had directed the administration to target 50 villages with the lowest vaccination rates during the next phase.
The health department also hired 44 cars to help 1,100 ASHA workers and 220 Auxiliary Nurse Midwives to reach vaccination centres, an official said.
Fully inoculated villages were given infrastructure project grants, while top vaccinators were also identified.
Singh said five vaccinators were identified daily on doses administered and the list circulated among the district’s Primary Health Centres and Community Health Centres. Vaccinators at the bottom of the list are also contacted to understand what challenges they were facing.
A Haryana Health Department official said vaccinators’ productivity drastically improved after data entry operators were appointed. Earlier, each vaccinator could inoculate 50 people a day as a lot of time was being spent managing the data.