Despite the rise in swine flu cases this month, doctors and paramedical staff don’t seem keen to get themselves vaccinated against the viral infection.
Only 50 medical personnel from across BMC hospitals have opted to take the H1N1 vaccine at Kasturba Hospital, Chinchpokli, in the past ten days.
Across the state, just 592 medical personnel, including 400 in Pune, have been inoculated since April.
The Centre had sent 34,300 doses of the swine flu vaccine, made by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Pasteur, to the state. These were meant especially for medicos who treat swine flu patients.
A source in the BMC said one of the reasons for the poor response was the fear of side effects.
“The 400 people who have taken the vaccine in Pune are being monitored because some have suffered side effects,” said the official.
State and civic health authorities denied this.
“There are no reports of side effects but there is fear about them in people's minds,” said GT Ambe, BMC's executive health officer.
He added that the fact that the vaccine does not guarantee “100 per cent immunity” was also responsible for the poor turnout.
Dr Pradeep Awate from the state influenza control cell agreed. “The vaccine only provides immunity for eight to 12 months so many doctors consider taking it futile. They also believe that they may have developed natural immunity because they have been exposed to the virus,” he said.
JJ Hospital dean Dr TP Lahane said some doctors were waiting for the indigenously produced vaccine, which is a nasal spray, to become available.
“The India-made vaccine is non-invasive and the imported one that is being offered right now is an injection so many doctors are waiting,” he said.
A doctor from Kasturba Hospital, who did not wish to be named, said most of his colleagues had not gone for the shot.
“Doctors from Sion and KEM had come but most of us from Kasturba, who treated swine flu patients, have already taken the Tamiflu course so there is no point,” he said.
He added that one needs to sign a consent form, which lists possible side effects like dizziness, nausea and loose motions, before taking the shot at Kasturba. “I think the vaccine is being given on trial and error basis. I would rather wait and decide,” he said.