Vaccine hesitancy falling but digital divide is bigger deterrent for vaccination in rural areas: Survey | India News


CHENNAI: The pandemic’s second wave which spread from big cities into smaller towns and villages and its resultant impact on life and livelihood has made more Indians, specifically those in smaller towns and rural areas, shed their reluctance over Covid vaccination, a survey released on Monday showed.
However, the pace of vaccination across the country was hampered with the majority of the rural population complaining about lack of knowledge to register on the CoWIN portal or they did not know how to register for the vaccine itself.
The good news is that India is slowly shedding vaccine hesitancy. As many as 78% of Indians in large towns were “extremely willing to take vaccines” as of May over 62% in March, Boston Consulting Group’s Covid- 19 Consumer Sentiment Survey said. And 74% Indians in smaller towns answered in the affirmative to the question “Can you tell us as of today would you be willing to take the Covid-19 vaccine if it was made available to you”, against just 39% in March. 63% of people were willing adopters of the Covid vaccine in May in rural India as against 41% in March.
The Supreme Court too had asked the government similar questions a few days ago: “You keep on saying the situation is dynamic but policy makers must have their ears on ground. You keep on saying digital India, digital India but the situation is actually different in rural areas. How will an illiterate labourer from Jharkhand get registered in Rajasthan? Tell us how you will address this digital divide,” the SC bench sought to know from solicitor general Tushar Mehta.
A whopping 63% in rural areas and 43% in smaller towns didn’t know how to register on the CoWIN app for vaccination; 60% of rural residents and 40% of those in smaller towns did not even know how to enrol for vaccination.
Among those who had not taken the vaccine despite being available, issues with the registration on CoWIN app were the main reasons. Two thirds (65%) of all Indians in big towns faced issues with the app, with non-availability of vaccination slots and fear of crowds at the centre while 55% in smaller towns and 53% in rural areas had issues with the technology behind seeking slots for vaccination.
BCG’s survey was fielded from May 23 to 28 covering nearly 4,000 respondents across metros and smaller towns and cities and rural India.
Some categories have continued to show positive sentiment. For example: essentials, health and home entertainment continue to be winners.
“There is an impending sense of uncertainty. However, we have observed certain positive messages too. The spending sentiment has not been impacted similarly across categories. Essentials, health, in home entertainment continue to be winners. Some of the discretionary categories, however, have been negatively impacted,” said Nimisha Jain, MD and partner, BCG India.

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