Build confidence in Covid vaccines, govt tells districts
As Delhi prepares to deliver the first jabs to its health care workers, officials of all the districts of the capital have been directed by the administration to build confidence among the masses regarding Covid-19 vaccines.
The officials, according to orders of the administration, are required to address safety concerns of citizens through awareness drives, ongoing door-to-door health surveys and speak over phone with people registered for the vaccination.
“We have to engage with people at many levels as part of the confidence building drive with regard to the Covid-19 vaccines. The objective is to assure them about their safety concerns in a scientific manner, put a rest to all unscientific fears and build confidence among large sections of people,” said Delhi chief secretary, Vijay Dev.
On Wednesday, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had appealed to the people to stay alert against “misinformation” on the vaccine and focus on scientific expertise behind its making.
Earlier this month, the health department of the government had already deployed accredited social health activists and anganwadi workers in a confidence-building drive, focusing on low-income group localities to address issues related to vaccine hesitancy”.
This week, the revenue districts have been directed to systematically launch awareness programmes focused on confidence-building and addressing vaccine hesitancy. “They have also been asked to develop a system under which people registered for vaccination in their districts would get phone calls, reminding them of date, time, venue. The caller would also try to address hesitancies, if any, and help in confidence building. Right now, the government already has a system in place to help give reminders for the second dose of the vaccine. That too can be used,” said a second senior government official, who did not wish to be identified.
Starting Saturday, Covid vaccine will be administered to health care workers, their numbers estimated at 300,000 in Delhi. This will be followed by vaccination of an estimated 600,000 front line workers. Registration for front line workers – which includes the police, sanitation workers, teachers, and officials from departments directly engaged in Covid-19 management — is currently in progress. The next in line for vaccination will be an estimated 4.2 million people aged more than 50 years and individuals with co-morbidities, whose numbers are yet to be ascertained.
Experts have called for greater dialogue to increase vaccine acceptance.
“Everything is ready. Now, we have to ensure that the beneficiaries actually take the vaccine,” said Dr Suneela Garg, professor of community medicine at Maulana Azad Medical College.
She said, the health care workers who understand the science, are the ones asking the most questions.
“The health care workers are the ones to be immunised first and they understand the science; that is the reason many of them have doubts and questions. The drug regulator has approved the vaccines, they are safe. People should take it because it is better than getting the disease, which can also have long-lasting sequelae (conditions following the disease, such as lung fibrosis in Covid-19),” said Garg.
Promila Pargayi, a nurse at GTB hospital vaccination, said, “I do want to get the vaccine but I will wait for a few days to see what kind of adverse reactions people are getting. After all, most of us have been working in Covid-19 wards and have already had the infection. It protects us for some time at least.”
Rekha Sharma, another health care worker based in Delhi, too said that she would rather wait and watch for some time. “I have diabetes and hypertension, so I am at a high risk . That is the reason I want to take the vaccine, but I want to wait a couple of days before getting it,” she said.
A senior doctor from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said, “There are some who are extremely excited about the vaccination drive. However, there are others who would like to wait and see what happens for sometime and those who would like to avoid getting immunised at the moment. In the first phase, medical professionals and those who work in the medical facilities will be vaccinated. Most of them are aware about Covid and to an extent about the vaccine. Large scale communication campaigns would be necessary for when the government starts roll out of the vaccines among the general public.”
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