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Rumour triggers panic, low attendance in Dhubri schools
 DHUBRI, May 18 - Hundreds of schools in Dhubri district witnessed low attendance in the past few days due to a rumour spread by the social media about injections being given to the students of educational institutions in the name of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccination that could lead to infertility.Not only the students but the parents also believed in the message that was being spread via the social media and were seen discouraging their children to attend schools. The effect of the rumour was so high that many of the schools located in the rural and chara areas witnessed low attendance, some of the schools saw not more than a dozen of students.

It is reported that even if the students were attending the schools, they used to run away after a few periods believing that they will be forcefully vaccinated.

As per various reports, such panic among the students and parents were seen equally among the students of villages and town areas. The effect was severe in char areas and in villages near Bilasipara, Dhubri, Gauripur, Chapar, Paglahat, Tamarhaat and a few villages near Golakganj.

However, unlike other districts of the State, vaccination drive against Japanese Encephalitis is yet to start in Dhubri district. Joint Director of Health Service, Dr Neel Madhab Das, while talking to this correspondent, said, “The panic is completely baseless as there is no school vaccination programme undertaken in any school of the district. Moreover, the rumour is also hampering other health programmers in the district.”

He added that the Health department has been administrating the Japanese Encephalitis vaccination since 2006 in the State and this year 14 districts have been covered successfully. The District Health Society also distributed leaflets among the students, parents and teachers urging them not to believe in the rumour.

Meanwhile, the education officers of the district are also having a tough time making the people understand the futility of the rumour. District Elementary Education Officer (DEEO), Dhubri, Naba Sankar Choudhary, said that with the help of teachers and senior citizens they have made a few committees in each village to educate the people and see the futility of the rumour. “Strict orders have been issued to make attendance in schools compulsory. The headmasters and principals of the schools have been given the responsibility to make the people aware that no vaccination drive is taking place in the schools.”

Publicity by the administration regarding the vaccination is also being done in various ways in almost all the areas of the district.

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