PM Modi talks to health workers to dispel fears over vaccines
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday sought to set at rest fears and misconceptions over the efficacy and safety of Covid-19 vaccines, and sought to dispel the “vaccine hesitancy” that has kept the turnouts low at inoculation centres.
In an interaction with health workers in Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency, Modi said the vaccines had been launched after completing all scientific processes of trial and testing. It was only when scientists gave the green signal that the vaccination drive, billed as the world’s biggest, started on January 16, he added.
“When doctors and health workers give a clean chit to the vaccine, it sends a very strong message among people about the efficacy of the shots,” he said through a video conference with the health workers, who are at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic
Union health ministry data showed that till 6pm on Friday, there were close to 230,000 more vaccinations were done across the country -- a total comparable to what was seen the day before. But there were also significantly more vaccination sessions on Friday, 6,230 compared to 4,043, implying that turnout had dropped again after a brief increase on Thursday.
During each session, 100 people are selected and invited -- on Thursday, almost 57% showed up, but on Friday, this proportion fell to 36%.
Modi’s interaction came a day after the government launched a mass awareness campaign to drive home its message that the made-in-India vaccines -- Covishield, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca and being manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India; and Covaxin, developed locally by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International -- were completely safe.
The two vaccines received emergency use authorisation from India’s drug regulator on January 3, clearing the ground for the start of the vaccination drive.
Health practitioners who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or have administered the shots to others took part in Modi’s interaction with Varanasi’s health workers, sharing their first-hand experience.
“Really, corona warriors have done a wonderful job,” Modi said in the 30-minute interaction during which he spoke to a government doctor, a lab technician and three nurses deployed at three vaccination centres —the District Women’s Hospital, Pt Deendayal Upadhyay District Hospital and the Haathi community health centre -- in Varanasi.
“Our preparation has been such that the vaccine is fast reaching every corner of the country,” Modi said. “And on the world’s biggest need today, we are completely self-reliant. Not just that, India is also helping out many countries with vaccines.”
He appealed to doctors, hospitals and vaccinators to accelerate the inoculation of all health workers in Varanasi so that the next phase of the vaccination drive can get underway soon.
(With agency inputs)
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