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Indian tribal people believe Covid vaccine can cause death

Villagers in Jharkhand state attack medical teams over fears of the dangers of vaccination

Indian tribal people believe Covid vaccine can cause death

Volunteers prepare to bury the body of a Covid-19 victim at a graveyard in Chennai on June 5. (Photo: AFP)

Tribal people including Christians in the rural areas of India's Jharkhand state are reluctant to have Covid-19 vaccinations due to fear of death, fever and even impotence.

Media reports said that people in Khunti, Gumla and adjoining districts blocked medical teams that had been sent to carry out vaccinations.

“I am surprised that even educated tribal Christians are refusing to take the vaccination. There is speculation among the people that after receiving the Covid jab, they may develop fever, blindness, weakness and even may die. This confusion has to be cleared up and we have to convince the people that it is safe,” Ratan Tirkey, a member of the tribal advisory committee of Jharkhand, told UCA News.

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“Gumla and Khunti districts have a sizable number of Christians and we have to make it clear that it is safe and the only way to defeat Covid-19. It is quite tough but possible.

“Several churches, NGOs and the government are trying their best to reach the least accessible communities, but unfortunately there are reports that medical representatives are even attacked in some villages.

“We plan to set up a quarantine center this week in Gumla and Latehar district, a predominately tribal Christian area, which will have all the necessary facilities and professional medical representatives.” 

Let us join together in these difficult times and come forward and take the Covid jabs and encourage others to come forward

Meanwhile, Archbishop Felix Toppo of Ranchi has urged people to come forward and take the Covid-19 vaccination as it can save them from the deadly disease.

“Let us join together in these difficult times and come forward and take the Covid jabs and encourage others to come forward,” the prelate said in his video message.

According to a report in New Indian Express, on June 2 health workers were attacked in Unkuda village of Khunti district. The report said villagers were upset after a woman from the village died a few days after receiving a vaccination jab.

Reports also said villagers in other parts of Khunti district opposed the survey teams and urged them to leave and never return. Even those who have received the first dose are not turning up for the second one after they developed a fever, New Indian Express reported.

A village representative in Gumla district said villagers are not ready to be vaccinated due to widespread misconceptions. He said people are really afraid of receiving jabs due to fear of death or falling ill.

“There are some of incidents where people having comorbidity died after taking the jabs, hence people are afraid. After the vaccination, people usually get fever and a belief has been established among the villagers that the vaccine is making them ill,” said Vijay Das, a district official in Gumla.

Jharkhand's government on June 1 extended the lockdown in the eastern state to June 10 to stem the pandemic.

The state's tally of Covid cases rose to 340,925 as 517 more people tested positive for the virus, while 12 new fatalities pushed the death toll in the tribal-dominated state to 5,046, a health department bulletin said on June 6.

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