People who haven’t taken the coronavirus shot in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh are being tagged by the police with a skull mark and the phrase “stay away from me” as part of an overzealous vaccine awareness drive that has sparked some criticism.
The drill was being conducted in the Niwari city of MP, where the police carried out random checks on the roads and asked people about their vaccination status. Those who got their jab received a tricolour badge, which signifies the Indian flag, with a text on it that read: “I’m a patriot as I’m vaccinated.”
However, those who hadn’t taken the jab were made to stick a pamphlet to their shirts which contained a skull sign, warning people to stay away from them.
Videos posted by news agency ANI showed the police interrogating passerby about their reasons for not getting their first dose.
“We are honouring those who have taken the vaccine, and telling those who haven’t,” a cop is heard saying in a video tweeted by news agency ANI. “Tell people I have been vaccinated, which is why I have been felicitated,” the cop told a guy who received a tricolour badge.
Some people on social media called the exercise “humiliation” and pointed towards vaccine shortage as a possible reason behind several people still not being able to receive their first dose.
“Giving badges for vaccinated people is good to encourage vaccination. But this poster of stay away from me is wrong because no such date given for deadline. GOI has given target of Dec 21 to vaccinate 70% only. Also this thing in vaccination shortage period is not acceptable,” Twitter user Amit Khandelwal wrote.
“When vaccines are not available in large no. People are waiting for their turn, it’s more humiliation than social message,” another Twitter user with the name Rishu wrote.
“What’s the purpose of shaming and humiliation? Moreover, it is against values and ethics of any health communication campaign,” user Abhijit Mali wrote.
“How silly is this, why someone has to wear a pamphlet not taking vaccine... can the government provide vaccine for everyone on a single day or at least in a month time,” Twitter use Sharadhi Kadidal wrote. “This is very irresponsible.”
Despite being a vaccine producing nation, India has so far managed to provide only 236 million doses for its massive 1.3 billion population, with only 17 out of 100 people having been inoculated. The country has also increased gaps between the two doses and only 3.3 per cent of India’s population is fully vaccinated, with a little over 14 per cent having received their first doses.
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