The mom and the jab

A meet-up of expectant and lactating mothers at the UPHC in Neelankarai births a social initiative

We have ben instilling confidence in the expectant and new mothers visiting our centre about vaccination against COVID-19, clarifying their doubts and allaying their fears about taking the jab,” begins Dr. J. Pavithra, medical officer, Neelankarai UPHC. Somewhere along the way, the UPHC realised the need to look outside for apt influencers.“So, we invited 20 mothers and mothers-to-be who had already taken the jab to talk to our target group,” explains Dr. Pavithra.

The twenty became conversation starters, driving a discussion among the other mothers, those unvaccinated who are visiting the centre for check-ups.

“If one lady is getting vaccinated others will at least start interacting with her and may come at a later time to take the jab. Sometimes, this works better than just talking about taking the jab,” says Dr. Pavithra.

She says the women who visit the centre are not compelled to take the vaccine, but an effort is made to demystify the myths around vaccination.

“The COVID-19 vaccines that are available are safe and protects pregnant women against COVID-19 illness, as it does for any others. A few side affects after taking the jab are common across categories of vaccine takers.”

The UPHC team admits the mission remains a challenge.

“For the last few weeks, we were phoning 10 women every day asking them to come to the centre and even reserving vials for them, but only five would turn up. The others would make some excuse and back out. There are some who do not come as family members do not support vaccination. It is a huge challenge and our nurses do a fine job of following up with the women,” says Dr. Pavithra.

Among the women who have taken the vaccine a few have become ambassadors for the UPHC.

Kodiyarasi, an expectant mother in her 20s, has been calling up other pregnant women in her circle to talk about how she feels after the inoculation.

“Women like Kodiyarasi make our job easy,” says Dr. Pavithra.

The UPHC has set a target of vaccinating 200 antenatal and postnatal women in August. The doctor adds: “We currently have a database of 800 women in our records who are lactating and close to 50 who are expectant moms.”

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