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Indian medics scale rockslides to vaccinate villages

In a remote part of northern India, deep in the Himalayas, health workers are scaling mountains to bring vaccines to villages.

These workers have helped the state of Himachal Pradesh become the first in India to administer at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to its entire adult population.

Their journey to the village of Malana includes scrambling over rocks, scaling a retaining wall and a three-hour trek down and up a river valley.

They use a cable car connected to pulleys to ferry the medicine across the river gorge that separates Malana from the road.

Not only are they faced with the hostile terrain, but once there, they have the challenge of overcoming vaccine hesitancy amongst the locals.

Kanta Devi is a 26-year-old health worker:

"When vaccinations started here in 2021 we faced a lot of problems. People couldn't understand and they had some wrong beliefs in regards to that. And convincing them was really difficult. But slowly we tried our best and now the maximum number of people are getting vaccinated."

The district chief had priests invoke a local Hindu deity to convince people to take their first shots.

Health workers say invoking the gods helped them inoculate up to 700 people in just three days.

55 year old Rajuram was one of them:

"I saw that when the vaccinations started, the villagers were scared. I was the first one to get vaccinated here in the village, and then the villagers also mustered the courage (to get vaccinated)."

The state's chief minister pins the success of the inoculation drive on its village-to-village campaign and its reliance on local politicians.

India wants to vaccinate nearly all of its adults by December.

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