How WhatsApp rumours about impotency, clots and death are fuelling Covid vaccine hesitancy in India

At the same time as India’s vaccination programme is suffering from shortages of supply, the rollout is also being hampered by swirling rumours of deadly side-effects, as Maroosha Muzaffar reports

Friday 04 June 2021 19:50
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<p>People over 45 years old talk to a staff member (L) after being turned down for their scheduled second vaccine dose due to stock shortages at a centre in Mumbai on 6 May, 2021</p>

People over 45 years old talk to a staff member (L) after being turned down for their scheduled second vaccine dose due to stock shortages at a centre in Mumbai on 6 May, 2021

Hema Rawat, who lives in a rural dell in the hilly northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, says no one in her village is keen on getting vaccinated, even though the deadly second wave of the coronavirus has killed thousands in the region.

False rumours about post-vaccination deaths and complications are swirling on social media apps, unverified, and passed on through word-of-mouth as absolute truths.

“Koi na lagwa raha [No one is taking the vaccine shot],” Rawat tells The Independent over the phone. Rawat says some villagers even believe that vaccines lead to food poisoning.

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