China has vaccinated more than 100 million people and is still enlarging the scale of the vaccination program as an effort to build a massive immunity shield. In recent weeks, the country has accelerated the vaccination work to wider groups of people, including those in rural areas and more remote regions.
Chinese experts have estimated that to achieve herd immunity, 80 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated, which means more than 1 billion people in China have to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
China’s maximum capability for vaccination is 10 million shots daily, so it would take 100 days to reach the 1 billion goal, Shao Yiming, a physician and immunologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was quoted by the China News Service as saying on Sunday.
To promote the vaccination work in rural regions, medical personnel and local officials often need to make more efforts and show extra patience and caution in order to ease the doubts and confusion among residents.
In Linquan county, East China’s Anhui Province, to help villagers, especially those who do not have smartphones and are not well informed, the rural doctors bring vaccination materials to them and explain the vaccination in detail.
“Luckily, a few farsighted villagers registered to get vaccinated at first and they said there were no adverse reactions and no fees charged. After that, other villagers poured into the center,” a local member of the staff surnamed Yao at Chengdong Street Health Center told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Linquan County aims to inoculate more than 40 percent of its permanent resident population by June 20 this year, which is about 755,900 people.
“To dispel the concerns of villagers, the village cadres volunteered to take the lead in vaccination,” an official surnamed Liu who is in charge of vaccination in Facheng town under Haiyang, East China’s Shandong Province, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
“The county government also invited voice actors to record audio explaining the vaccination process and played the audio on loudspeakers in each village,” Liu added.
Liu said that the mass vaccination in the town began on March 23, targeting villagers between the ages of 18 and 59. “The villagers are highly motivated and it wasn’t hard to mobilize them. After receiving notification from our staff, they go to the township hospital to get vaccinated,” an official from one of the villages under Facheng town told the Global Times.
To help villagers understand the COVID-19 vaccines, doctors and nurses who know both putonghua and local ethnic languages have been dispatched to vaccination stations temporarily set up in villages and towns in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in recent days.
The region wants to vaccinate about half of its population. The promotion is all-around, from TV and radio to WeChat posts in different languages to underline the importance of vaccination, said Wang Juan, a vice director at Aksu No.1 People’s Hospital.
“It turns out many local residents are willing to get the shots,” Li Yanli, head nurse at the Aksu No.1 People’s Hospital, told the Global Times. “The villagers have work to do in the daytime, so they often come to vaccination stations after work. Our medical personnel have had to stay very late recently.”
However, mass vaccination does not mean a loosening of standards. Before residents can get the shot, they need to go through a strict review process. Medical staff check blood pressure, temperature and other disease records, and consent forms must be signed.
“Sometimes we feel the process is too complex and tiring, but we all understand we have to this work,” Li said.
Yang Ji, a resident of Zengba Village in Nyingchi, Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on March 23. Since last week, her county has carried out vaccinations, organizing for villagers from each village to take turns to go to the county hospital to get the shots.
“Our village’s vaccine promotion team consists of seven people, including two doctors stationed in the village. They not only make door-to-door visits, but also give vaccination tips to each villager through WeChat,” she said.
Yang Ji said the villagers were initially excited and nervous when they heard the news that they would soon be able to receive the vaccine. “We knew it was an important barrier to protect us from infection, but after all, we live in the highlands and were worried that the vaccination would induce some specific diseases for us.”
To her relief, the doctors at Zengba Village patiently responded to the heated discussions and occasional concerns of the villagers, telling them what preparations they needed to make and what conditions make vaccination unsuitable.
Yang said she feels good so far after the vaccination.