Bengal doctors' body urges Centre to start Covid booster vaccine programme for healthcare, frontline workers
The West Bengal Doctors Forum wrote to Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya and said that a booster shot would be an “effective measure” to prevent Covid infection “by maintaining the vaccine efficacy.”
The West Bengal Doctors Forum on Saturday wrote to Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya urging him to roll out a Covid-19 booster vaccination program for all healthcare workers (HCW) and frontline workers (FLW) “as early as possible.” The body said that a booster shot would be an “effective measure” to prevent Covid infection “by maintaining the vaccine efficacy.”
In its letter, the forum expressed concerns about the possibility of medical workers being exposed to the disease while on duty because of the efficacy of the vaccines over time.
“We are all aware that efficacy of vaccines goes no further over time and due to that numerous healthcare workers may contract the disease in their duty line. There are studies which say that the administration of booster dose will be an effective measure to prevent Covid infection by maintaining the vaccine efficacy,” news agency PTI reported citing an excerpt from the letter.
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“At present, the number of active Covid cases in our country is low and under this circumstance on behalf of the medical fraternity, we appeal to you and your good office to issue an early advisory to commence the booster dose vaccination programme for Covid-19 for all healthcare workers and frontline warriors as early as possible,” the body further said.
Several other countries such as the US, the UK and other European nations have either rolled out or announced a booster programme against the pandemic. Notably, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) said that the efficiency of vaccine doses decreased over time among healthcare and frontline workers.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has objected to countries opting for boosters saying several low- and middle-income nations are yet to vaccinate their populations with a first dose. It has also expressed its concerns about global equitable vaccine distribution amid more advanced economies opting for boosters.
Meanwhile, concerns about vaccine efficacy among healthcare workers have been around for a while now, given that healthcare workers in the country were the first group to be prioritised for the national inoculation drive against Covid-19 that began back in January this year. However, earlier in September director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Balram Bhargava had said that the immunisation programme should rather focus on administering two doses to all eligible populations than booster doses.
“I think, currently I would say that the talk of booster (doses) is not pertinent and I said this last time also. The call of the hour is to give the two-dose vaccination, which we call as full vaccination, covering the entire adult population,” the ICMR chief said on September 30 when asked about booster doses for HCWs.
The Union ministry of health and family welfare on the day said that the cumulative number of doses administered under the country's Covid vaccination drive crossed the 108-crore mark.