According to the local community group that works with adolescents in Dharavi, a few families and children still face vaccine hesitancy and fear that the vaccine may cause harm to their bodies
Awareness drive in Dharavi by SNEHA volunteers. Pic/SNEHA
As the number of Covid-19 cases rises in Mumbai, Dharavi has also seen a slow increase in the number of Covid-positive cases in June. As of June 19, the largest slum in Mumbai, Dharavi has 65 active Covid-19 cases.
According to the local community group that works with adolescents in Dharavi, a few families and children still face vaccine hesitancy and fear that the vaccine may cause harm to their bodies.
School-going 14-year-old Almas Jamdar is one such resident of Dharavi who fears taking the Covid-19 vaccine. According to her, even if there is a lot of awareness created on how the vaccine is safe, she still prefers to not inoculate the vaccine.
Almas Jamadar says, “I stay in a family of nine members. Hardly three of them have taken the vaccine. One of my eldest sisters recently took the first dose as she will be attending college. Even if I go to school, I still choose to not opt for taking the vaccine out of fear. Many times we hear the news on TV and through word of mouth that people who have taken the vaccine are the ones getting infected with the virus and in a few cases, people have died too.”
SNEHA, a non-profit organisation, which has been working across the vulnerable slums of Mumbai with their adolescent programme named Empowerment, Health and Sexuality of Adolescents (EHSAS), has developed a Covid-19 appropriate behaviour module to create awareness about the virus. It is working with around 1,600 adolescents in Dharavi. According to them, around 75 per cent of the adolescent in Dharavi are vaccinated at least with one dose.
Onil Kulkarni, Program Coordinator, EHSAS Program, SNEHA, says, “There is still a lot of vaccine hesitancy in the beneficiaries. People are not really welcoming the vaccination drive. Most of the working class beneficiaries have been taking vaccines because of the vaccine mandates in the office or workplace. We have been encouraging people to visit the nearby health post or the vaccination centers to get themselves vaccinated.”
He adds, “While a lot of NGOs and also the government authorities are working on the ground in Dharavi to create awareness about the vaccine benefits and the virus, still a few people are doubtful whether to take the vaccine or not.”
While precautionary dose for 18-59 age group is chargeable, through various social initiatives, the doses are made available free of cost in Dharavi. So affordability or financial issues are a problem for many beneficiaries.
This month, BMC also started ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ (door to door) campaign across Mumbai to motivate beneficiaries to get vaccinated as the number of Covid-19 cases is rising.
Another teenager from Dharavi, Pallavi Waghmode, 16, who has taken the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, says, “Now, I am eligible to take the second dose. I haven’t yet planned when to take it, but will surely complete my vaccine doses. There were few Covid-positive cases in my family, so I realise the importance of the vaccine and the precautionary measures that need to be taken. Most of my family members and friends have at least taken one dose.”
According to the civic body authority, they are targeting local schools, colleges, and health posts in Dharavi to increase the footfall of beneficiaries between the 12-18 age group.