Despite testimonies and experience from peers, the vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers has continued. The reason for the hesitancy is the absence of a “medical ritual” for adult vaccination in the country.
“Barring a few exceptions, the vaccines were always administered to children till the Covid-19 pandemic arrived. Now, the introduction of vaccines has generated a lot of curiosity and raised inhibitions,” said Chand Wattal, head of the Department of Microbiology at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
The doctor who received his second dose on Saturday urged people to trust science as vaccines are safe.
Around 1.9 lakh healthcare workers are scheduled to receive their booster shots of Covid vaccines on Saturday post a gap of 28 days after receiving the first jab of the two-dose inoculation regimen.
The vaccination drive started on January 16 with the expected level of hesitancy towards the vaccines since its side effects and reactions post-immunization were unknown.
However, with time, the acceptance of the vaccines has improved as more healthcare workers are coming forward to become vaccine beneficiaries.
Sharing their experience after a month of taking the first shot and now fully immunised with the second dose, the healthcare workers told IANS: “We are hale and hearty after the jibes”.
Pragya Shukla from Delhi State Cancer Institute became the first woman doctor in India to receive the Covid vaccine in India, completed her two-part dose on Saturday and told IANS that no side effect has occurred after the second dose and the after-effects she experienced even after her first jab was “inconsequential”.
“I developed mild fever and a little malaise (unease) which subsided within a day. I`m in the pink of my health and have experienced little other after-effects post-immunization in the duration of 28 days,” she said.
Shukla, who is also a nodal officer of Covid vaccination at the DSCI said that other beneficiaries who received their first dose at the hospital had experienced minor side effects and did not experience any severe Adverse event following immunization (AEFI).
“All of them had a mild fever, pain at the injection site and little weakness which remained just for a day and two. After that, they are all healthy and regularly coming to work,” she said.
Wattal, who was among the first 3,000 healthcare workers who received their initial dose of Covid vaccine on January 16 said that apart from a little heaviness in the injected arm, he did not experience any more side effects. He received his second dose on Saturday.
Shukla said that such after-effects are common after taking any vaccine.
Despite the testimonies and experience from peers, the vaccine hesitancy among the healthcare workers is there to some degree.
Wattal said that the reason behind the hesitancy is the absence of a “medical ritual” for adult vaccination in the country.
“Barring a few exceptions, the vaccines were always administered to children till the Covid-19 pandemic arrived. Now, the introduction of vaccines have generated a lot of curiosity and raised inhibitions,” he said.
“However, they must trust science and look at the evidence in hand. No one would make a poison to counter a killer pathogen. We (vaccine beneficiaries) are walking-talking evidence. Nothing happened to us. The vaccines are safe,” Wattal added.
“The vaccines are safe and save lives, that is the bottom line,” Shukla stated.
Shukla and Wattal, both agree that more awareness, peer-to-peer conversation, and endorsement is required to win complete trust over the safety of vaccines.
As per the data shared by the Union Health Ministry on Saturday morning, 79,67,647 people constituting healthcare and frontline workers, have received Covid vaccines in the country so far.