A resident of the remote Ghar Katha village in the Basantgarh block of Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district is now probably the oldest person in the world to have been inoculated with a Covid-19 vaccine dose. Dholi Devi, believed to be 120, has spent almost her entire life here and has seen several generations of her family grow up in front of her eyes.
“She was administered the Covishield vaccine during a mobile inoculation drive in her village last evening,” an official of the Jammu and Kashmir health department said on Tuesday.
He said that Dholi Devi not only took the first jab but was also eager to take the second dose soon.
“She was very enthusiastic to get injected and expressed her desire to take the second dose when the turn comes,” said the official.
India’s vaccination drive to fight the pandemic began on January 16 for healthcare workers. It was gradually expanded to accommodate front-line workers, and then the population above 60 years and those above 45 years with underlying health conditions, or comorbidities. From April, the comorbidity clause was removed, making all above 45 eligible for the shot. Finally, from May 1, India became one of a few countries to open the vaccination drive to all adults.
The official added that nine other members of Dholi Devi’s family who were above 45 years of age were also vaccinated during the mobile camp.
Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir say that Dholi Devi should be a role model for people who still have vaccine hesitancy and haven’t come forward to take the jab.
“The people who still doubt the vaccine should see Dholi Devi as a role model and should come forward to take the vaccine, as the vaccine is our only tool against the pandemic,” the official said.
Authorities have been holding mobile vaccination camps in the far-flung areas of Jammu and Kashmir where people don’t have access to the internet and don’t know how to use the government’s CoWIN platform to register for a shot.
“Our staff has been helping the people in the remote areas across Jammu and Kashmir to register on the CoWIN portal and then schedule a date for them on the spot. Everything is being taken care of by the staff of the health department,” an officer from the department said.
However, like several other parts of the country, the drive in the union territory has been slowed by a shortage of vaccines.