Vaccinators trekked 11 kilometres through a forested route to remote mountainous Weyan in Jammu & Kashmir’s Bandipora district for the second time in two weeks and vaccinated every adult there, making it the first village in the country where every person above 18 has got the first Covid-19 vaccine dose.
Most of the residents of Weyan, which is cut off from the rest of the world after October and has no roads, power and mobile network, are nomads, who take their cattle to meadows up in the mountains in summer and return only in autumn.
Bandipora’s block medical officer, Dr Masraat Iqbal said their team vaccinated the adult residents of the village 100% on Friday last. He added if they waited, then it would have been difficult for them to track the residents in the upper reaches of the Gurez region and they could not have been vaccinated before October. He said the second dose would be given after 12 weeks and they have asked the residents for details of their locations in the meadows where they will be headed to.
Iqbal said the residents came forward for the vaccination drive only after proper counselling. “Two weeks ago, when we sent a team there, only six people including the village head came forward for the vaccination.” He said the village head, Lal Bhat, motivated the remaining adults of the village to get vaccinated.
He said a 10-member team led by a doctor vaccinated 362 people over the two days it was stationed in the village for the vaccination drive.
The health department quoted Bhat saying when other residents saw him taking the jab without any side-effect, they too overcame their hesitancy. Bhat thanked the department for their “tremendous work.”
Director general (health, family welfare, and immunisation) Saleem-ur-Rehman said Weyan was on their priority list because the residents of the village are nomads. He said it is among villages in Jammu and Kashmir where their teams have to trek long distances to vaccinate people. “Like Weyan, the department has shortlisted many such villages where 100% population above 18 will be vaccinated.”
Rehman said Jammu and Kashmir was doing well in terms of immunisation. “Already 35 lakh [3.5 million] doses have been administered which is a good average and we will try to improve it further in the coming days.”
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