Why Are Fewer Women Being Vaccinated For COVID, And What Can We Do About It?

There's a worrying gender gap in vaccination according to recently released data. Why fewer are women getting the vaccine is something to be explored.

There’s a worrying gender gap in vaccination according to recently released data. Why fewer are women getting the vaccine is something to be explored.

According to a post by the New Indian Express (based on the government data) dated May 14, 2021, most states in India see a gender gap when it comes to vaccination.

Only four states – Kerala, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Chattisgarh have vaccinated more women than men so far. Nationally, there is a gender gap of over four percent when it comes to vaccination. High burden states like Delhi and Uttar Pradesh have over 10 percent gender gap ratio when it comes to taking the jab.

While vaccination is the need of the hour, it can be observed that basic need of the female community has yet again been put on the back burner.
Arguably, many would say –  but it’s the men who go out more than women, so they are more at risk to get infected.

Why is this gender gap in vaccination worrying?

This argument doesn’t work well, because, firstly, even after being vaccinated, men could still be the active carriers of the virus and infect others in society, and at homes.

Secondly, when there is no medicine, vaccination is the only sure shot way, to not be fatally attacked by the virus, and hence, a right of all.

Thirdly, this depicts a deeper problem, an overall portrayal of how we treat our women, when it comes to access to resources and healthcare facilities and welfare services.

Fourthly, men can isolate themselves but since women have unfair burden of selfless caregiving at homes, they interact with other members, including kids and the elderly, and hence, more potent to contract and pass on the virus.

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Fifthly, some women singlehandedly run their houses and manage their homes too. It’s wrong to perceive that only men venture out and run everything. Women are at equal risks, if not more.

Lastly, women are more nutrition deficient than men in general. Their immunity, too, is lesser than that of the opposite sex, and with less awareness and less detections and tests, their co-morbidities also go ignored.

Hence, women are more at severe risk, as COVID can be a sleeper death pill for them if the are asymptomatic.

What could be the reasons for this gender gap in vaccination?

Another reason why women are differentiated here could be because of their lack of and access to technology, aka, smart phones. Let’s not assume that vaccination is only for urban populations with women having online access. Registering, slot booking, and taking the jab is a three step (Herculean) process but is all possible only when one, or one’s relatives/acquaintances, have an android phone.

There is lack of awareness and no step-by-step explanation in local/regional languages or proper advertisement again makes this all complicated and non user friendly.

Vaccination centers are also not conveniently placed in blocks and districts and even after getting a slot, one might get a center that is too far, as far as 50km away, one way. In times of lockdown and problematic modes of transport, women find themselves in an unfair, disadvantaged situation.

General apprehension about the new vaccine or needles could be another reason why most people, and women in general, are not very enthusiastic about getting vaccinated.

Many people, especially women with little children and household responsibilities, are also scared to get infected if they go out.

Not enough of vaccines being produced and uneven distribution is another reason why men, who could be more aware, more socially advantaged, immediately fill the limited slots, pushing women on the margins.

What can be done to change this skew?

Free vaccination for all women, at least in rural areas.

Better availability of vaccines in each district and block.

On spot registration based on Aadhaar, Voter Id.

Home to home vaccination, as soon as there is sufficient production – buses can be converted to mobile vaccination centers and all covid safety norms can be followed. If it can not be home to home, efforts should be made to at least bring vaccines close to people’s homes.

Better, user friendly online portal for those who want to book online.

Women and children be given a priority.

More awareness to dismiss apprehensions and fears, and win confidence and give assurance that this is necessary to save lives.

More female health care workers/nurses who can pacify and make other women comfortable.

Incentives like food grains, money, free health check up especially to poor women when they bring along more women with themselves and actively participate in the vaccination drive.

This is war, and every citizen deserves a fair chance

Things are easier said than done and corona is a full waged war, but there are nations that have made it and it gives us hope in these gloomy times, that if they could do it, we can too.

Women cannot and should not be ignored and it is, indeed, worrying that the gender gap is so wide even when things are so serious. If not contained, this gap will only increase and so will the repercussions.

This war can’t be won if we leave our women behind.

Image source: a still from the film Period. End of Sentence.

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Chaitanya Srishti

Mostly writing, other times painting. Here to celebrate little wins. I am on the same page as you, just a different book - you read mine, I'll read yours. read more...

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