Around 50 people were sitting at the Chander foods, a known sweet mart and café at Umerkot. Every third person was discussing about people who were dying in the time of pandemic, growing rate of cardiac arrest and vaccination.
Majority was saying that Covid-19is the planned agenda and biological war of China and America. They will inject a chip card in body and will stole all the secret data and mental orders. It was also shared by locals’ merchants and businessmen and businesses-women that China wants to conquer the world, that they want to see themselves as rulers of this world, and that through pandemic and lock-downs, markets will shut down and true sources of income and revenue generation will get disturbed.
A college student, Pawan Kumar,expresses anger about vaccine distribution system, categorized by types. “There are categories like China vaccine, UK vaccines, and US vaccines. Developed countries are getting western vaccines while third world in dependent upon China vaccine. We do not know which one is reliable,” he says.
However, a representative of community-based youth group in Umerkot, Bharat Lal, says that positive stories and designed campaigns takes time to become popular but misinformation crossed the limits and boundaries in the time of pandemic.
When asked, 26 years old, Bhawani Shanker Malhi told that he was not ready for Covid-19 vaccination before, but when his elder brother reported positive then he got scared. “I heard a lot of fake news and rumors against corona vaccination,” he explains listing such rumors as vaccines being not safe because they were developed quickly,long-term side effects, safety issues for people with diabetes and heart diseases, no need for vaccination for young and healthy population, and so on. “For me this information was authentic as my source was trustworthy friends and family members,” he elaborates. However, when after the inauguration of a vaccination center here in Karachi the Sindh Minister for Information, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, announced the decision that mobile phone SIMs of those who do not get vaccinated will be blocked, Malhi felt pushed to vaccinate.
Phoolan Bai, mother of newborn baby girl and a housewife from Heerabad, Umerkot, shares that when she was pregnant her same aged female friends told her that if she got vaccinated, she would not be able to have a child.
“Radha, lady health worker from my village told me that all these theories are fake, and it [covid vaccine]would not have a bad impact on your health. Many women had got vaccinated and nothing happened to them and they became mothers. I got vaccinated and nothing happened to me and now I am a mother of a healthy child,” Phoolan Bai says.
Thanwar Das, a rights activist from Ghulam Nabi Shah, Umerkot, says that people have a conservative mindset and they don’t easily accept the changes. He further adds that, ‘’The sources of communication, development projects, newly constructed areas are being resistant from decays. But when people realized that there are benefits of such things, they started to accept it. Likewise, vaccinations were initially not accepted due to misinformation and myths.’’
When approached to Medical Officer, Dr. Durga Shanker, Covid-19 warrior from Civil Hospital Umerkot, he said, “Covid-19, a big threat all over the world, has affected the entire globe in all the aspects of human resources, economy, and manpower. Moreover,everyone was shocked and frightened due to Covid-19. Many people have been suffering from this pandemic. It was a big challenge for health care profession also to work in this difficult situation, as many health care workers, due to their exposure to the virus, and subsequently their families, have suffered fromCovid-19.”
He further explains that, in the beginning, a lot of people were not accepting the existence of this pandemic, as for them it was a fake propaganda by the government, and “when vaccination drive was about to start in Pakistan, different people circulated misinformation about the vaccines,” he explains.
“Being a medical officer inCovid-19 emergency, we have dealt with different negative perspectives of the people about the vaccine, such as we will die within two years of vaccination or it will cause infertility and sexual dysfunction. Majority of the people were not willing to be vaccinated, but slowly and gradually they have changed their minds after observing that firstly front-line warriors including the healthcare professionals, forces and education department have been vaccinated,” Dr. Shanker adds.
“However, still it was a big challenge to convince and motivate the general public about benefits of vaccination.After continuous efforts of Health Department and District administration most 75% population has been covered. According to the report till now, 657 947got first jab and 457 482 got second jab, total 1 115 429 are vaccinated,” he adds.
The vaccination trend is positively growing among the inhabitants of Umerkot. Now people are visiting for the booster dose and also bringing their children for the vaccination.