The great divide: Vaccination jab gender gap over 20 percent, 56% men get jab against 44% women in the state
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BHOPAL: The gender divide is very palpable in vaccination against Covid-19 in the state. By Monday evening, more than two crore persons had received the first or the second or both the doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Of them, a majority, 1.13 crore, were men and just 89.44 Lakh were women.

According to CoWin website, the total number of vaccinations administered in the state was 2,02,68,862 of which 1,13,20,796 jabs were given to men and 89,48,066 to women. That means, men formed 56 per cent of the vaccinated individuals while women formed 44 per cent.

Though the number of women in the state is fewer than that of men, the difference in the number of vaccinations is not accounted for by the sex ratio of 930.

†Women are not seen as an important part of the family, community or society structure. The vaccine gender gap is reflective of the gender inequality. Experts say that there were a number of reasons why women were either unable or reluctant to get the vaccine.

There is hesitancy because of rumours about side-effects, and how the vaccine affects fertility and menstruation. But there are other factors such as women not being able to access the technology needed to register for it, not having information on where the centres are or not being able to go to the centres alone. Women often also need permission from their husbands to get vaccinated. Even if they get that, if their husbands are unavailable to accompany them they miss out.

Women don't know how to register on the phone. The number of smartphone owners among women is lesser than among men. The fifth National Family Health Survey, conducted in 2019ñ20,†showed†a†clear digital gender divide. Of those surveyed, 58% of women had never used the internet, compared with 38% of men.

Mobility also becomes an issue. If public transport is not easily available, and the vaccination centre is not walkable, what the women do.

In households, men are given preference for getting the vaccination. Other concern for many women is that information on side-effects and how to deal with them is not readily available in an accessible language or format. There are also unfounded fears the vaccine could cause infertility, or interrupt menstrual cycles. A lot of the information that women get is through WhatsApp, which may not be reliable. Women have two kinds of concerns ñ one is that you cannot get the vaccine while menstruating, and the other that vaccination will affect your future cycles.

Women will have to become their own inspiration

Women will have to become aware. They will have to become their own inspiration. At the same time, isn't it true that in our country, women spent their life looking after the wellbeing of their families ñ their husbands, their children and their parents-in-law. So, it is the responsibility and the duty of the family and society to ensure that they are protected against diseases, that they get themselves vaccinated. Government is doing whatever it can. But the family also has a role. -Dr Santosh Shukla, State Immunisation Officer

Why vaccine hesitancy ?

-Unfounded fears that it could affect fertility, menstrual cycle

-Many unable to access technology needed to register for it

-Ill-informed about vaccination centres, unable to visit alone

-Often need permission from their husbands to get vaccinated

-Husbands are unavailable to accompany them they miss out.

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