Ignorance, misinformation and superstition among citizens have resulted in low turnout at the Covid-19 vaccination drive in Dharavi. Of the over seven lakh population in the area, only 11 per cent have been vaccinated till date.
Dharavi has remained the biggest concern for the BMC and the state government since the start of the pandemic as it had become a hotspot of the financial capital. As the number of beneficiaries turning out for vaccinations has not been reaching the target set by the local ward office, it seems that residents of this slums have turned their backs to vaccination. Multiple awareness programmes and initiatives have been carried out in the past by the BMC and NGOs. Yet the number of those vaccinated in the area remains low. This trend has left BMC officials worried as the number of cases reported daily from the ward/ area continues to rise.
Currently, apart from tracing cases, treating patients, and isolating patients and their high-risk contacts, the BMC is looking at vaccination of residents as one of the major deterrents in keeping the virus at bay. With a vaccination centre near the slum pockets, the civic body aims to increase the number of people willing to register for the jabs.
In July, it even set up vaccination drives under CSR initiatives in the area with an aim to vaccinate at least one lakh residents. However, the turnout is still low, BMC sources confirmed.
Of the seven lakh population in Dharavi, around 76,000 people have been vaccinated till August 23. About 60 per cent of the vaccinations have been done at BMC-run centres, while 40 per cent have been done at the centres set up under CSR initiatives since July.
In March, only 1,349 people were vaccinated here. After this, the BMC involved NGOs to create awareness among citizens and encourage them to get vaccinated. Therefore, in April, this increased to 10,648. Following this, two more centres were set up in Dharavi for large scale vaccination.“There are many industries and factories in Dharavi. Therefore, it is necessary to increase vaccination of the working class here,” said Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of G-north
As the stock of vaccines increased since June, 9268 people have been vaccinated.
However, the ward officials are hopeful that the compulsory two vaccine dose criteria for entry to malls, trains and even workplaces will boost the drive.
Dighavkar added. “We are depending on the CSR vaccination initiatives like the one carried out by Citibank with Jaslok hospital for Dharavi and NGO’s creating awareness. Apart from that, the two-dose vaccine criteria for availing entry to malls, trains and workplaces too will drag citizens to get vaccines."
The number of beneficiaries jumped to 17,657 in July. Vaccination at the municipal centre then declined due to the shortage of vaccines again in August. However, up till August 21, 6,161 people have been vaccinated.