“A friend of ours went to the nearest vaccination centre in Cottonpet at 4 pm and was told to come back the next day,” says Nagaraj, a resident of a slum on Binny Mills Road in Cottonpet. “We are workers, we cannot always take long leaves. For some of us, it means losing our daily wage. How can one go and get vaccinated then?” he asks. Nagaraj’s concerns are echoed by several poorer residents of Bengaluru who live in slums in the city. While there is vaccine hesitancy among some people due to lack of awareness and fear of side-effects, the main reason why many people TNM spoke to are unwilling to get vaccinated, is the fear of losing their wages.
Bengaluru has been witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases since March with the number of cases touching almost 10,000 per day. Amid the fresh surge, the Karnataka government and the civic body of the city Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) have been pushing for vaccinating more people each day. As of April 16, cumulatively, the state of Karnataka has vaccinated over 65 lakh people since the vaccination drive began on January 16. Bengaluru’s civic body has extended the vaccination drive to residential apartments and offices.
Upon visiting three slums in the city, TNM learnt that while there are people who are open to getting vaccinated, a good number of people are still apprehensive about getting inoculated.
Loss of wages
Ismail Shariff, a 58-year-old tailor from a slum attached to the CSI Hospital Compound in Shivaji Nagar, says that the officials from the nearest vaccination site — Bowring Hospital — did urge the eligible people in their area to get vaccinated, and many did. He, however, pointed out that some are not getting vaccinated as it may result in loss of wages.
“I went to Bowring Hospital on April 9 and got vaccinated. Soon after I got vaccinated, I started shivering and had developed a fever. I was not informed about the side-effect at the site,” Ismail says. “I have a son who sits and runs the shop — but for people who are sole breadwinners, it’s not feasible to stay at home for four days and not earn money. They have to take care of their family,” he explains.
Nagaraj says that most people leave for work even before the inoculation begins in hospitals, and by the time they reach to get vaccinated after wrapping up their day’s work, the hospital staff sends them back asking them to return the next day.
“Not everyone has the privilege to lose a day’s worth of salary. Many think that they can wrap up their work and go get inoculated — but they cannot. And during the morning, there is a rush at the vaccination site. Who will take a leave to receive an injection?” he asks.
“Instead, it will be great if BBMP extended their vaccination drive from 7 am to 7 pm so we can go get vaccinated,” he adds.
Lack of awareness
In some instances, there is lack of awareness on why one needs to get vaccinated. An auto driver this reporter spoke to in Binnamangala slum near the Indiranagar Police Station has not gotten the vaccine, because he says he tested negative for the coronavirus. “My reports were negative when I had visited the CV Raman General hospital for eye surgery,” he says, and hence did not feel it was necessary to get the vaccine now.
Hesitancy over side-effects
Meanwhile, Kalpana, a resident of Binnamangala slum says that people are still hesitant to get vaccinated for fear of side-effects. “Many people in the area are scared of getting vaccinated. They know that cases of people exhibiting adverse effects are rare, but they fear that they will end up being the rare case and hesitate,” she says.