Helping vulnerable older people get vaccinated before India's deadly second wave
With our partner HelpAge India, Age International has been supporting vulnerable older people in India to stay safe from coronavirus throughout the pandemic. Given the devastating second wave of coronavirus now sweeping through India, older people like Mrs Mariammal are so grateful we helped them overcome their misconceptions about the vaccine and are now protected.
Older people living on low incomes and without family support living in remote and rural areas are at particular risk of COVID-19, with limited access to healthcare and health information. In November 2020, we reached out to almost 3000 older people to raise awareness in the community of the dangers of coronavirus and the benefits of getting vaccinated, addressing the myths and misconceptions to ensure older people get their vaccination, and helping with logistics and transport.
Mrs Mariammal, 68, lives in a village in Virudhunagar district, Tamilnadu. She has lived alone since her husband passed away, with no one else to support her. Access to pensions is limited in India, and although Mrs Mariammal has applied for both an Old Age pension and Widow’s pension, she is yet to receive them. Instead, she does manual labour for part of the month through an access to employment scheme – her only source of income.
Mrs Mariammal heard about the vaccination campaign our team was running in her area, but was very sceptical and afraid she would have severe side effects if she was vaccinated. One of the volunteers on our project, Ms Mary, visited her at home to brief her about the advantages of taking the vaccine - advising her not to listen to the myths and rumours circulating.
The visit from Ms Mary gave Mrs Mariammal the reassurance she needed to visit the Public Health Centre, and she enrolled herself to receive her first dose of the vaccine. She was pleased to report that the only side effects she experienced were mild fever and body aches, which had only lasted for a day.
Given the sudden surge of coronavirus cases now devastating many parts of India, Mrs Mariammal is grateful to our team in India and very glad she took the decision to get the vaccination when she did. She encourages other older people in her village to follow in her footsteps and safeguarding themselves from the virus.
Older people in the poorest parts of the world affected by conflict or living in refugee camps need help urgently to survive the silent threat of COVID-19.
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