Misinformation, distrust in the government or belief in conspiracy theories may be reasons why some people are not open to the idea of getting vaccinated in India and abroad.

To help governments in their vaccination effort, many celebrities from around the world have started using their reach to debunk the myths surrounding the vaccine. 

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“I just want to say to all of you cowards out there: Don’t be such a chicken squat," said Dolly Parton, an American singer in a video on Twitter in regards to the vaccine. 

Even spiritual leader Dalai Lama, after receiving the first dose of the vaccine, said "This is very very helpful, very good". 

It may be easier to make an individual believe in a vaccine by explaining the science behind it but what happens when Satan enters the conversation? 

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So what is happening in Manipur? 

Manipur has a small population of just over 27 lakh of which around 2.4% are fully vaccinated, according to a report in The Print. Being a smaller state, their rumour mill is more efficient and likely to grow at a faster rate. 

As the population latches onto any misinformed rumour on a subject as critical as the COVID-19, it becomes a task for the government to shake it off. 

As we have all seen our fair share of WhatsApp forward anti-vaccination propagandas much similar statements are still seething through the state’s networks. 

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Many are claiming that the vaccine will lead to death within two years of taking the shot. The weakening of the body for two days post-vaccine is being confused as a permanent side effect of the vaccine. 

Manipur and their churches 

40% of Manipur’s population is Christian, with the church having played a vital role in raising awareness over the years. And its importance in the community was once again on display when the All Manipur Christain Organisation helped dispel vaccine hesitancy. 

During the Kuki-Naga conflict of 1992, the church negotiated between the two parties to stop the burning down of houses. Now, the association advocated for the vaccine and lobbyed for the government. 

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There are several connotations within the Bible that may be causing the misbelief within the people. 

This line of thinking is ascribed by proponents to the Book of Revelations, chapter 13:17, which says, “so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name”. 

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To counter the scepticism local pastors have been telling people that the vaccine has no relation with the beast and that it is safe. 

What is the government doing? 

The low rate of vaccination in the state has been a point of contention for Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. He and government officials have held several meetings with religious leaders to counter the myths around vaccines that have been further announced at mass prayer and near tribal residential areas. 

Apart from this the local leaders have started conducting vaccination drives and have started mobile vaccination services for people in the hilly areas who do have easy access to healthcare centres.