In Pictures | Health workers vaccinate Kashmir nomads
A healthcare worker Nazir Ahmed carries vaccines and looks out from a hillock for Kashmiri shepherds to vaccinate them in Tosamaidan, southwest of Srinagar. The challenge for health workers travelling to to long distances for vaccinating mostly shepherds and nomadic herders in the remote meadows of the Himalayan region has not been the treacherous terrain but to persuade women to get COVID-19 vaccines. (AP Photo)
Fueled by misinformation and mistrust, many residents, particularly in remote rural areas, believe that vaccines cause impotence, serious side effects and could even kill. Some simply say they do not need the shots because they’re immune to the coronavirus (Dr. Tajamul-Hussain Khan, chief medical officer unsuccessfully tries to convince a Kashmiri nomad woman sitting on horse back who refused to let her 30 year old son to be vaccinated during a COVID-19 vaccination drive in Tosamaidan, southwest of Srinagar. AP Photo)
Still, Kashmir has done better than the rest of India. Scores of health workers like Farid have fully vaccinated over 9% of the eligible people among the region’s 14 million population, compared to less than 5% for India’s nearly 1.4 billion people. Almost 53% in Kashmir have had a first shot. (Healthcare workers administer a dose of Covishield vaccine to Basheera Banoo, a Kashmiri shepherd woman, during a COVID-19 vaccination drive in the forest area of Gund, northeast of Srinagar. AP Photo)
A team of health workers cross a stream to reach the villages on the upper reaches during a COVID-19 vaccination drive in Gund, northeast of Srinagar.
Kashmiri nomads listen to Dr. Sayeed Idrees during a COVID-19 vaccination drive in Tosamaidan, southwest of Srinagar.
Mukhti Khan, an elderly woman, belongs to a family of nomads who have traveled for centuries between summer mountain pastures and winter grazing grounds in the lowland plains, herding their goats, sheep and horses.
On a recent day, Mukhti expressed her gratitude as a medical team visited the village near the remote pasture where she and her extended family have camped with their cattle. They can travel on foot to the village but must walk for hours to the nearest town for any medical emergency. (A health worker administers the Covishield vaccine to shepherdess Mukhti Khan as her husband Satar Khan registers his name during a vaccination drive in Tosamaidan, southwest of Srinagar. AP Photo)
Apart from the hesitancy, the health workers have faced hostility as well. (Health workers talk to Kashmiri nomads during a COVID-19 vaccination drive in Tosamaidan, southwest of Srinagar. AP Photo)
“There are places where our colleagues have been attacked,” said Farid, who has vaccinated over 800 people so far. (A Kashmiri shepherdess Najma Begum reacts as she receives the Covishield vaccine for COVID-19 from Masrat Farid, a healthcare worker, in Gagangeer, northeast of Srinagar. Farid has trekked long distances through remote Himalayan meadows in Kashmir to vaccinate nomadic herders in a campaign launched in June. Her challenge isn’t the treacherous terrain, she says, but persuading people to get inoculated against the coronavirus. AP Photo)
Dr Tajamul Hussain Khan, chief medical officer, right, watches as a healthcare worker from his team administers a dose of Covishield vaccine to Saja Begum outside her hut during a vaccination drive in Tosamaidan, southwest of Srinagar.
Healthcare workers Masrat Farid and her colleagues cross a stream near river Sind to reach villages on the upper reaches during a COVID-19 vaccination drive in Gagangeer, northeast of Srinagar.
Some of the attacks were fueled by fears that videos taken by officials of the vaccination campaign could be used by authorities to encourage support for the Indian government, which many Kashmiris deeply dislike. Most want independence or a merger with neighboring Pakistan, which controls another part of Kashmir. Both countries claim the entire disputed territory. (A Kashmiri shepherd woman watches villagers being vaccinated as she stands outside her hut during a COVID-19 vaccination drive in Tosamaidan, southwest of Srinagar. AP Photo)