Home » Gender gap in vaccination: digital divide, hesitancy to blame

Gender gap in vaccination: digital divide, hesitancy to blame

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Ground Report | New Delhi: As of 2nd June, four and a half months into the Covid-19 vaccination drive, India has administered 2,21,85,46,667 doses of the vaccine (including 2nd doses as well). 9,13,81,749 men and 7,92,31,870 women have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. The gender gap in vaccination is starkly visible by the fact that, of the total population vaccinated, 46% are women while 53% are men. Only 1% of those identifying as “other” gender has received their shot.

What numbers say

Jammu & Kashmir, with the worst gender gap in vaccination, vaccinated 709 women per 1000 men. Nagaland follows close behind with 714. This is slightly lower than Delhi, which has vaccinated 725 women per 1000 men. Kerala, Chattisgarh, and Himachal Pradesh are the only states that have inoculated more women than men.

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They have vaccinated 1125, 1045, and 1003 women per 1000 men respectively. However, on average, the country has vaccinated only 867 women per 1000 men. This is lower than India’s average sex ratio of 940 women per 1000 men.

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Potential reasons

Several factors could have contributed to this gender disparity. Digital illiteracy, especially among rural women, is a likely reason. The vaccination drive requires access to and knowledge of the internet for registration. However, data shows that on average only 3 out of 10 women in rural India were familiar with the internet. In urban areas, this number was 4 out of 10. Moreover, vaccine hesitancy among women is higher than among men.

In a survey by The Quint, 61% of the women reported fear of the vaccine, compared to 49% of the men. This may be due to myths about the vaccine affecting the menstrual cycle, causing sterilisation, harming pregnant and lactating women, etc.

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There are other issues, such as deprioritisation of women’s health in families and lower-decision making power in the hands of women. Moreover, the first phase of vaccination was directed towards frontline healthcare workers. Since women don’t form a large part of the workforce, that may have contributed to the gender disparity as well.

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While there is a need to solve these structural problems to women’s access to healthcare facilities in the long term, it is the need of the hour to reduce vaccine hesitancy by dispelling rumours and coming up with a more accessible registration process.

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