As the world continues to grapple with Covid-19, vaccination has been the only glimmer of hope in this pandemic. But it also comes with lots of challenges. One such photo showing an indigenous man carrying his father on his back to a vaccine center has gone viral, starting a big conversation online.
The image of the father-son duo hailing from a tribal community living in one of the remotest areas in the Brazilian Amazon was first shared on Instagram. Identifying them as Wahu and Tawy Zoé, Erik Jennings Simões, the doctor who took the picture, called it the “most remarkable moment” of last year.
Highlighting the stark reality of getting vaccines to people in most backward societies, Dr. Simões wrote: “Tawy carried his father for 6 hours through a forest with hills, streams, and obstacles to our base.”
And his arduous task just didn’t end there. The son had to take the same journey twice after getting the vaccine to reach their village. Welcoming the new year with the poignant image, the health professional added: “No case of COVID-19 has been recorded in the Zoé population.”
As the image went viral, it started a debate about the challenges of complicated vaccination logistics. BBC News Brazil reported that the family belongs to the Zo’é indigenous community, who live in relative isolation across dozens of villages “in an area equivalent to 1.2 million football fields in the northern Pará state.”
Dr. Simões told the BBC that 67-year-old Wahu could hardly see anything and walked with difficulty because of chronic urinary problems. So, his 24-year-old son was his only way to get a shot. “It was a very beautiful demonstration of the lovely relationship between them,” Dr. Simões added.
Although the image was taken last year at the start of Brazil’s vaccination program, where indigenous people were a priority group, he only posted it this year to send a “positive message”.
The doctor also threw light on how even though health workers wanted to reach the villages themselves, it was not feasible “due to how spread out they were.”
So, they decided to set up small huts within the forest areas, and communicated with the communities through radio while paying respect to their cultural beliefs and practices to ensure they agreed to get the shots.
Sadly, even though Wahu’s picture has become the talk of the town on the internet, the old man passed away in September last year for some unknown reason. However, his son has completed his quota of Covid shots.