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125-year-old seer takes shot, oldest to get vaccinated

LUCKNOW: While vaccine hesitancy prevails even among the youth, a 125-year-old Kashi seer, Swami Shivanand Baba, has got himself immunised against the Covid-19 virus. Born on August 8, 1896, in Sylhet district (now in Bangladesh), Swami Shivanand has been living in Varanasi’s Bhelupur area since 1979. On Wednesday, the centenarian seer sprung a surprise when he arrived at Durgakund urban primary health centre vaccination centre to take the jab. Health officials believe he could be the oldest citizen to be vaccinated against coronavirus.
Centre in charge, Dr Sarika Rai, confirmed the seer’s age from his Aadhaar card. His enthusiasm was contagious for his age, she said.

“We have multiple documents, including passport to prove he’s 125 years old. Some years ago, he was examined by a team of Kolkata doctors and they couldn’t believe he was so fit for his age. He believes in simple living and leads by example,” his disciple (since 1993) Dr Subhash Chandra Garai, medical officer of a multi-national company told TOI.

Hospital staff interacted with Swami Shivanand, while he was under observation post-vaccination. Many were surprised to know he consumes only boiled food, practices yoga and leads a disciplined life.
“When he was leaving, we asked him how was he feeling and he said he felt energised. He also said, people fear the vaccine for no reason. Everyone must take the jab,” recalled a health worker.
Earlier, a 109-year-old Ram Dulaiya of Veerpur village in Jalaun was considered the seniormost citizen to be immunised. The elderly woman has taken both doses – first on March 18 and the second on April 20.
Her grandson, Ravindra, said his granny has become a role model for villagers. “Villagers cite her as an example to those who shy away from the jab,” said Ravindra, who is scheduled to take his shot next week.
He informed that in his family of 13, nine except his grandmother were eligible for the vaccine. By next week, our entire family will be vaccinated,” he said.
Experts said, there was a need for such role models to boost the vaccination programme. “Perception, fear of the unknown, misconceptions and misinformation affect everyone, but some take it too seriously. To convince them, role models come handy,” said an official.
Health officials pointed out that UP has a vaccination target of 13.6 crore. Of these, 20,77,143 are 80 years of age or more. In Varanasi, the number of 80 plus persons is 3,86,36 lakh.
Data from the Cowin portal updated till 7 pm indicated that over 2.19 vaccine doses have been administered in UP since the launch of the programme on January 16. At least 1.82 crore have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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