Enthusiasm and wariness: two sides of the vaccination drive
With the vaccination against the Coronavirus underway, the Patriot talks to people receiving the shot; some of them still seem apprehensive, while others await their turn
28-year-old Sunil (name changed on request) is an employee of Service Master, a security management company. Unmistakable lines can be seen on his face as he awaits his turn to be administered the first shot of the Covid vaccine at the vaccination centre at Safdarjung Hospital.
“I heard many people got fever, and some were admitted to hospitals after receiving the vaccine. I am scared what will happen, but I can not say no to vaccination. Everyone is taking it, so I also have to take it.” he says as he leaves to receive his shot.
Since the nationwide rollout of the vaccination, despite repeated claims of the National Adverse Event Following Immunisation (NAEFI) of there being no links between deaths and vaccinations in the 12 cases it has investigated so far, apprehensions regarding the vaccine are still abound. The apprehension can in part also be blamed on misinformation and the lack of information regarding the gap between the two shots of the vaccine.
Even so, despite almost a month, since the vaccination drive was launched for frontline workers (FLWs) apprehensions about the adverse impact of vaccination are still affecting turnout. FLWs, which includes police, paramilitary and government officials, started getting vaccinated from 2 February, while vaccination for health care workers (HCWs) was rolled out on 16 January. Now with a larger section of the population, those above 60 years and those with comorbidities above the age of 45, being vaccinated, the Patriot talks to a few of the individuals receiving the jab.
Apprehensions among front line workers is clearly more visible when compared to health care workers. Most of the frontline workers we talked to cited the alleged adverse health impact of the vaccine.
Such is the apprehension among Front Line Workers (FLWs) that on 6 March data of Safdarjung hospital shows that 51 Health Care Workers (HCWs) came for a second dose, while 11 FLWs took the second dose.
Even when nationwide data is taken into account, it becomes clear that the alleged health effects of the vaccine seem to be disuadding FLWs . Till 8 March, 2.26 crore people were administered the Covid- 19 vaccine, out of which more than 67 lakh were FLWs, compared to 70 lakh HCWs.
Interestingly, even when we look at the data for the second dose of the vaccine the number of frontline workers turning up is increasing at a slower rate than HCWs. From 6 to 8 March, some 1,15,982 FLWs came for the second jab, while 1,90,235 HLWs took their second dose.
This comes at a time when reports have surfaced that FLWs received messages that their salary will be cut if they fail to show up for the vaccination drive. Authorities on their part have said that such messages were floated to encourage greater participation in the drive and no such measures were actually implemented.
While healthcare workers express no such apprehension in face of the alleged health impact, the Patriot reported that only half of those vaccinated returned for a second dose. However, the misinformation and confusion regarding the gap between doses was cited as the main reason.
On the other hand, senior citizens have been coming out in large numbers to receive their first dose of the vaccine. 85-year-old Ms Santosh who came to Safdarjung hospital for her first jab happily clicked pictures while awaiting her turn to be vaccinated.
“I had no apprehensions about vaccination, we have doctors in our family. They told us it is safe and we should take it. All arrangements are good here and I comfortably took my first jab,” she said.
Till 8 march 41,85,274 senior citizens, above 60 years of age got vaccinated.
However, the rate of vaccination in people with comorbidity is yet to pick up “People with co-morbidity are worried about adverse health impacts. And they are not coming for vaccination in good numbers.” a health official at Ambedkar hospital said.
A senior doctor at AIIMS told us, “People with comorbidity have to consult doctors before taking the shot, and in certain conditions they are not advised to take it. So that may be the reason for their low turnout. Otherwise many are safely taking it.”
As of now Covishield – an Oxford-AstraZeneca’s formula manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech are the two vaccines being administered to people under the countrywide vaccination drive.
And while the drive is underway Delhi has seen the case positivity rate decrease at a steady pace. On 8th march 47,689 tests were conducted, out of which 239 were found positive, with a rate of positivity of 0.50% and three deaths.