COVID appropriate behaviour, increased vaccination key to beat Coronavirus in tribal districts of Odisha

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Kalahandi/Nuapada: UNICEF Odisha in collaboration with the Department of Health, Government of Odisha & Press Information Bureau (PIB) Bhubaneswar, organized a virtual Media Sensitization Program on COVID and Vaccination in Kalahandi and Nuapada districts.

The panel of speakers included Rajinder Chaudhry, Additional Director General, Press Information Bureau & Regional Outreach Bureau, Bhubaneswar, Akhil Kumar Mishra, Director Regional Outreach Bureau, Bhubaneswar, Dr. Binod Bihari Ratha, ADPHO(FW), Nuapada, Dr.Nilamadhab Satpathy, ADPHO(FW), Koraput, Dr. Sashsi Bhusan Panda, Child Health Manager, RI, Radhika Srivastava, Communication and Advocacy Specialist and Dr. Anil Patnaik from UNICEF.

The sensitization program emphasized on the need to generate greater awareness on COVID appropriate behaviour and encourage more people to take the COVID vaccination.

The panel was commenced by Radhika Srivastava, Communication and Advocacy Specialist, UNICEF Odisha who highlighted the role of media during the pandemic.

In his introductory remarks Akhil Kumar Mishra, Director Regional Outreach Bureau, Bhubaneswar said, “The focus should not only be on tribal regions of particular districts but also the rural and tribal pockets within urban areas which may face lack of information.”

Adding to this Rajinder Choudhry, Additional Director General, Press Information Bureau & Regional Outreach Bureau, Bhubaneswar said, “In a diverse country like India particularly in Odisha, it is difficult to reach out to the grass root level due to network and transport issues. Therefore we need to deploy a combination of mechanisms including mass communication and interpersonal communication to reach out the vulnerable mass” Speaking on importance of vaccine he further said, “Many countries across the globe are going through the third wave of the pandemic already, but it should be noted that the hospitalization and death rate is still minimal due to vast coverage of vaccination among population. While the vaccination rates in India are commendable, we need to keep our focus on vaccinating more people so as to achieve herd immunity.”

“Media has been playing the most crucial role in disseminating information during the pandemic, especially in tribal regions that are hard to reach and among tribal communities that often do not receive a lot of information from regular channels”, the experts stressed on the role of media in the pandemic. “Lack of information and knowledge as well as spread of incorrect information and myths may lead to increase in fear and vaccine hesitancy among those population. Hence media should be careful in disseminating message and ensure only accurate and scientific information reaches tribal communities”

Speaking on the impact of COVID Dr. Anil Patnaik, UNICEF, Odisha stated, “People with comorbidities & immunity deficiency and senior citizens may be more vulnerable to COVID. Only 5% people are getting severely affected due to weaker immune system. In the 2nd wave it was also evident that more younger people are also getting affected by COVID”.  He also spoke on different aspects of post COVID care and the need to monitor oxygen level, use of pulse oximeter and explained about the proning method for improvement in oxygen level. Dr Patnaik emphasized on frequent check of oxygen level in case a person tests COVID positive.

Speaking on safety and efficacy of vaccine Dr. Sashi Bhusan Panda, Child Health Manager, Routine Immunization, Department of Health stated, “No vaccine gets prepared overnight. It takes many stages of testing before approval. The vaccines for COVID available in India have also gone through all required processes and testing.” Describing anti-bodies formed after the vaccine as soldiers to fight against COVID he further said, “The two doses of vaccines help in creating sufficient amount of anti-bodies in people. There are a few cases which are definitely of contradictory nature but those are because of other reasons like immunity deficiency due to comorbidities.” He also explained that the COVID vaccines are fully effective after 14 days of getting the second jab.

Speaking on the Successful Vaccination Drive in Nuadapada, Dr. Binod Bihari Ratha, ADPHO(FW), Nuapada said, “Till today around 78% of total population that is 2,00,231 people in Nuapada have been successfully vaccinated out of which only two cases were found to have adverse impact. Also out of 7360, we have successfully vaccinated 2384 pregnant women in the district.” “The vaccines are showing positive results and more people should come forward to get vaccinated.”

Dr.Nilamadhav Satpathy (ADPHO) FW, Koraput, stated, “All vaccines approved by the Government have high efficacy rate. The average efficacy rate of all vaccines including Covaxin and Covishield and others is 70%-75%. So without hesitation we should get ourselves vaccinated.”

The experts answered a number of questions by media ranging from dosage, gap between doses, reaching out the tribal and rural pockets.

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