With people in rural and far-flung areas still reluctant to take COVID-19 vaccine shots, experts Sunday stressed on the need to involve local imams and community heads to counter rumours and misconceptions.
Dr. Azhar Majeed, Medical Officer at Public Health Centre Sheeri Baramulla told Rising Kashmir that people in rural areas were still reluctant to take vaccines following the various rumours circulating on social media and other platforms.
â€œTo counter the rumours and traditional myths, local imams, community heads can be social influencers. There are misconceptions among some sections of people that the vaccine will lead to illness and fever,â€ he said.
Dr. Azhar said thereâ€™s a lot of misinformation about vaccines online, so itâ€™s important to always getÂ information from trustworthy sources like UNICEF and WHO.
He said during the second wave of Covid19, people were coming forward to get vaccinated but after several rumours spread on social media regarding vaccination, they have stopped taking vaccines.
â€œTo encourage people to get the vaccine, medical teams were doing door-to-door drives in their entire block. In some areas they were successful while in some people did not cooperate,â€ the senior doctor said.
Dr. Azhar said two months back, there was a time when there were no vaccines available but now we have enough vaccines available but people are not coming forward. â€œThere is still a gap following lack of awarenessâ€, he said.
While sharing his experience of handling Covid19, Dr. Azhar said there was more fear in the first wave of pandemic as compared to second wave.
Â About the importance of vaccination, he said it is a must to fight the deadly pandemic. Vaccines are showing to be highly effective at protecting people against serious illness from COVID-19, he said.
The senior doctor said vaccines are designed to build immunity without the dangers of getting the disease. Itâ€™s normal to experience some mild-to-moderate side effects that go away within a few days on their own,â€ he said.
Dr. Azhar said effective community leadership plays a significant role asÂ agents of change and has the ability to positively impact the development of rural communities.
â€œThere is no need to create panic and people should come forward to get vaccinated. Besides, repeated testing after an asymptomatic person has recovered is also not required,â€ he said.
Dr Azhar also made a fervent appeal to the people to follow the Covid19 guidelines and SoPs to combat the spread of deadly virus.