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Some health workers reluctant of getting vaccines, claim pressure from superiors

Even as most healthcare workers were elated following inoculations on Saturday, some of them struck a slightly discordant note, with a section refusing to take the jabs and others claiming pressure from superiors to undergo vaccinations
By Sadia Akhtar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 11:24 PM IST

Even as most healthcare workers were elated following inoculations on Saturday, some of them struck a slightly discordant note, with a section refusing to take the jabs and others claiming pressure from superiors to undergo vaccinations.

A female anganwadi worker, at the session site at government primary school in Daulatabad, requesting anonymity, said, “They are forcing us to get the vaccine dose. I don’t want to get the vaccine. Will they ensure that our treatment costs are taken care of if something happens to us? We are poor people. No one will take any guarantee and get us treated if there is any fallout due to the vaccine,” said the woman.

While some of them eventually refused the vaccine on health grounds, some others returned without getting the jabs. A health worker from the ESIC dispensary in Daulatabad, who got the vaccine shot, said that her colleague came to the session site but returned without taking the shot.

“Scientists have worked on the vaccine for a long time and I trust their expertise. However, some people still have doubts. One of my colleagues went back because she was wary of getting the vaccine,” she said.

A health worker, who recovered from a bacterial infection nearly 10 days ago, said that she was not taking the vaccine on account of weakness incurred from the illness.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, she said, “I am still recovering from an illness. There is a lot of weakness. I told my senior that I was sick but she insisted that I visit the site. I would have taken the vaccine if I was healthy.”

At the Bhangrola primary health centre (PHC), one computer assistant refused to take the vaccine jab, but officials said that people could opt out and are under no pressure. Doctors at the facility said that while they had set a target of 100, they were able to inoculate 53 people till 5pm.

“Some women were lactating, others had fever or allergies. One worker, a computer operator, refused to get the vaccine. We tried to counsel him and explain the importance of the vaccine but he didn’t get vaccinated. We didn’t force him,” said Dr Shalu Vashisht, medical officer in charge of the session site at Bhangrola PHC.

She said that beneficiaries were within their right to decline a vaccine and there was no pressure to get vaccinated. “It’s their right to not get vaccinated if they are not willing. We cannot force them,” said Vashisht.

She added that some people might have had apprehensions since it was the first day and confidence in the vaccine would greatly increase by next week. “By Monday, people will get reports about the efficacy of the vaccine. I’m sure all their doubts will be put to rest since the drive went well today. Vaccine hesitancy should refuse in the coming days,” said Vashisht.

Besides those who had reservations, there were those who got vaccinated but were not aware of the name of the vaccine or the next steps involved in the process.

Ruby, 35, an anganwadi worker, who goes only by her first name, said, “I got the vaccine and faced no issues whatsoever. I don’t know the name of the vaccine but there were no issues and I didn’t experience any pain.” She said she was unaware of the timeline of the next dose of the vaccine.

Vimla, a health worker, who goes by her first name, said that she had received the first dose of the vaccine but didn’t know the name. “I am feeling well. When the madam calls us again, we will get the second dose,” she said.

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