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Medical institutes in Haryana asked to allay fears regarding Covid-19 vaccine

The state health department has instructed all public and private medical colleges to ensure adequate coverage of Covid-19 vaccines among staffers and residents
By Prayag Arora-Desai, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 10:37 PM IST

The state health department has instructed all public and private medical colleges to ensure adequate coverage of Covid-19 vaccines among staffers and residents. Accordingly, senior professors and department heads of various medical institutes in Haryana have been asked to take a more proactive role in dispelling hesitancy regarding the vaccines among beneficiaries and to emphasise their safety and efficacy.

An order to this effect was issued by Haryana’s director-general of health services on January 22, requesting authorities to treat the matter as “most urgent”. Addressing the directors of all medical, dentistry and nursing colleges in the state, the order states, “You are hereby directed to give full co-operation to do maximum vaccination to cover 30,000 beneficiaries to make 25th January, 2021, COVID-19 vaccination day a success.”

Of these 30,000 beneficiaries to be covered, nearly 9,500 are enrolled with the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences(PGIMS) in Rohtak, where officials said that the response to the vaccine has been underwhelming. Dr Dhruv Chaudhury, nodal officer for Covid-19 at PGIMS-Rohtak, said, “Vaccine acceptance so far has been lukewarm. There is a lot of misinformation circulating on social media, which may be giving rise to undue scepticism. We are not trying to force people to take the shot, but we have to reach out to staffers in a personal capacity so that public trust in the vaccine doesn’t take a hit. The vaccine is our only way to stave off a fresh wave in cases like we are seeing in other parts of the world. It is certainly a possibility in India, too, once natural immunity to the virus wears off.”

After receiving the state’s instructions on Friday, senior doctors at PGIMS-Rohtak held a meeting, during which it was decided that all senior professors would “motivate faculty, residents and nursing staff,” as well as employees in housekeeping and clerical departments to come forward for inoculation. In a subsequent order issued on the same day, the director, PGIMS, wrote, “All department heads have been requested to ensure that all of them (staffers) are vaccinated for Covid-19.” Department heads have been tasked with filing the status report in the matter, Chaudhury confirmed.

Authorities at SGT university in Gurugram, which is the district’s only full-fledged medical institute, also confirmed that they have received the state’s directive. However, a spokesperson for the institute said that they have not faced much vaccine hesitancy among either medical and non-medical staffers. “I am unable to recall the exact number of beneficiaries, but over 90 percent of them are already vaccinated,” said Dr Umesh Lamba, deputy medical superintendent, SGT University.

However, Lamba added that hesitancy is present to a much larger degree among SGT’s 2,300-strong student body — who are enrolled in the departments of medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, behavioural sciences and naturopathy. “Even though they qualify as health workers, and are at risk of contracting Covid-19 while interacting with patients, students are being very reluctant. Not many have come forward to get vaccinated as yet. Some have even said that their parents are preventing them for taking the shot. Senior doctors have been told to reach out to the students and answer any questions that they may still have.”

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