An Arunachal Pradesh government officer’s offer of free 20 kgs of rice as an incentive for getting vaccinated against Covid-19 has broken through the reluctance among some residents aged above 45 years and managed to accelerate the vaccination drive in Lower Subansiri district.
The incentive was planned by Yazali circle officer Tashi Wangchhu Thongdok, and it successfully lured the residents to the vaccination center. Yazali has a population of around 12,000 and nearly 1,400 of its residents are above 45 years. While 84% of these residents had received their due doses, the remaining 209 residents were unwilling despite the administration’s attempts to vaccinate them at home.
“Some were unwilling to give up alcoholic drinks for a few days after vaccination, while others were dissuaded by a fake viral message on WhatsApp which claimed vaccination will lead to death in two years. We carried out awareness drives telling people that the message was false and the benefits of vaccination outweigh minor discomforts,” Thongdok told HT over phone.
Since April this year, Yazali has recorded 243 Covid-19 positive cases, including 190 persons who have recovered and 53, who are still active. The area has not witnessed any Covid-19 deaths.
“We were lucky to find two sponsors who donated the money needed to procure rice for the 209 people who were yet to be vaccinated. We decided to run the campaign for three days from June 7 to June 9, urging people to visit the vaccination centre at Yazali to get their jabs,” said Thongdok, an Arunachal Pradesh civil service officer from the 2016 batch.
Despite heavy rains, on Monday, the first day of the campaign, nearly 50 people turned up, got vaccinated and took their 20 kilos of rice each. The authorities are confident that in the next two days all other eligible beneficiaries will come forward and get vaccinated.
“When the circle officer approached me with the idea, I immediately decided to help out. Along with my school friend, Taba Nagu, who is also from Yazali, we transferred the amount needed to procure the rice,” said Licha Birbal, a businessman from Yazali, who is based in Guwahati these days.
Till Monday, Arunachal Pradesh recorded 29,696 Covid-19 cases and 125 deaths. The state has a recovery rate of 88% and 3,440 active cases at present. Around 385,000 people in the state have got vaccinated till date with 306,000 persons getting the first dose and nearly 79,000 receiving both the doses.