COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is still prevalent around the world, which stirs interesting (and oftentimes frustrating) conversations. But in India, 85-year-old Brahmdeo Mandal took the opposite route and helped himself get at least 12 jabs, which he claims healed him from some of his health conditions.
Mandal, a retired postal department employee who lives in the Madhepura district in Bihar, India, reportedly used different IDs to receive additional shots, including his national identity card, a voting card and phone numbers of his wife and friends.
He also reportedly went to different vaccination camps across Madhepura and to at least two neighboring districts to get the jab.
Speaking with The New York Times, Mandal said he felt the COVID-19 vaccines were helping his general health. “My backache has improved, my general weakness improved and my appetite improved,” he told the newspaper.
He also claimed in an interview with The Indian Express that he did not experience side effects from all the Covaxin jabs he got, and instead allowed him to walk normally now.
Mandal kept tabs on each of his jabs and logged the details of his inoculations in a diary. In a photo of the diary acquired by The Times, it appears that Mandal received his first dose on Feb. 13 at a local clinic.
“I was always looking for new vaccine camps and would go there,” he added. “Nobody would recognize me.”
After receiving 12 jabs, there’s no stopping Mandal as he revealed to The Times that he is seeking new opportunities to get vaccinated. “I still want more,” he told the newspaper
Vaccination in India is voluntary and there are some 90,000 mostly state-run vaccination sites in the country.
According to a BBC report, there are vaccination camps that offer walk-in inoculations without the need to register online. The person just needs to provide at least one proof of identity to register, which include a biometric card, voter ID or driver’s license. The data gathered from the sites is uploaded to the country’s CoWin vaccine portal.
It is unclear how Mandal was exposed but according to The Times, it appeared he was boasting about his “boosters” to someone, who then tipped off local news media.
It also seems Mandal incriminated himself by indulging local and international media outfits for an interview and revealing more of his story as state health officials have launched an investigation into the matter.
Dr. Amarendra Narayan Shahi, chief medical officer in the Madhepura district, told The Times that he has spoken to Mandal regarding his “boosters.” Shahi also said problems with their internet connection may have delayed the vaccination information in Madhepura.
An early investigation revealed that Mandal received eight vaccines from four sites, in one of them he received two shots with 30-minute interval, the BBC reported.
As of Jan. 8, over 627 million of India's 1.4 billion population have already been fully vaccinated according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare's cumulative coverage report.