Express News Service

DEHRADUN: Weather can change at a moment’s notice in the hilly tracts of Uttarakhand; sunny days are often interspersed with bouts of rain.

Sometimes, it snows and the risk of landslides is ever present. But Shweta Rana and her team of Himalayas Health Workers labour on, for the onus of reaching out to the far-flung with vaccines for Covid-19 has fallen on their shoulders.

On a particularly demanding day, the team covered 18 kms through the treacherous hills to inoculate some hill villagers.

Talk about hell and high water! there are at least 15 villages on the India-China border in Uttarakhand that sit 2,800 metres high in the lap of the Himalayas.

It is this cluster that the Uttarakashi district health workers aim to cover by inoculating at least 90% of their population by august 15. Rana, an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM), is one of the many health workers assigned to handle the task that was launched on January 16 last.  

“The journey is tough and there is no shortcut. Landslides are common, and food is hard to come by if you are not stocked up. there have been occasions when we have survived on mere biscuits and water. It took my team 13 hours to reach a village last month. there, we convinced the people about the importance of vaccine and went about our jobs,” she recalled.

Their treks are often interspersed with incessant rains, chance encounters with animals, resistance from the locals, and food and shelter shortage. the state’s vaccination drive has picked up pace in the recent months. as of August 9, 15,96,342 people in the state have been fully vaccinated, while 50,69,725 have received at least a single dose.

The hill state has a total population of 49,34,219 in age-group of 18-44 years; 27,95,247 in agegroup of 45+. the state has 1,28,002 healthcare workers and 1,93,216 front line workers handling the task.

Sonam Rawat, another health worker, said, “It is a difficult, but an important job. We overcome natural and manmade hurdles to do what is required of us. We intend to meet our august 15 target.”