Health workers themselves are reluctant on taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
By- Antara Gupta | 20th May 2021
Bengaluru- Amidst the vaccination drive being carried out in the country, some health workers find themselves reluctant on taking the COVID vaccine. According to an article 3 out of 4 eligible health care workers did not take the second dose of COVID vaccine since the drive began on February 15th, 2021. Only 98, 118 of 3, 81,305 that is 26 percent of them turned up for the second dose in the state. As per BBMP, the vaccine coverage amongst the health workers have remained due to reasons such as deep-seated vaccine hesitancy, technical glitches, and fake news about the vaccines.
The health workers on the other hand feel that they have been made scapegoats for the ‘experimentation’ of the vaccine. “My brother-in-law received the first dose of the vaccine. Three days later he began complaining of discomfort. When his condition started deteriorating, we rushed him to the hospital. The doctors declared him dead on arrival. He had suffered a heart attack. He was a healthy man, but we lost him”, says Seema R., relative of the deceased Venkatesh K. He was a health worker working at government PHC (public health center). Cases similar to Venkatesh have been noticed not just in Karnataka but throughout India. According to National AEFI (adverse even following immunization) committee, 617 adverse events have been reported, which includes death. This report is based on the documentation of only 38.3% cases. Many fear that the cases have been underreported. Despite the fact that there is no scientific backup to prove that the vaccine is behind these deaths, the panic still remains, even amidst some doctors. “I have seen cases of neuralgia, brain stroke, sudden weight loss, loss of vision amongst many of my colleagues. These people had no underlying health issues. Suddenly after being vaccinated, they had to face all of this. I cannot possibly trust the vaccine after witnessing all of this”, says Dr. Renuka H (MBBS). Dr. Yeriswamy (name changed on request) says, “They have released the vaccination, but I don’t want to take it. The reason being, I am actually a faculty member at a medical college. In my college, 98% of people haven’t taken the vaccine due to various reasons. I’ve seen many people who are close to me have taken the vaccine and in one week they have lost 6kg, another guy couldn’t see for 3 days after taking the vaccine, and we have seen the person I know going into a coma a day after taking the vaccine. This also I have witnessed.”
Officials on the other hand maintain that vaccine hesitancy is not as serious as it seems. “The hospital is doing very well during this vaccination drive. In fact, people are encouraging one another to take the vaccine shot as per their turn. There was an initial apprehension, yes, but I believe our staff is getting over that”, says Dr. Smita, the nodal COVID officer of Victoria Hospital. On the other hand, the spokesperson of DR. Reddy’s laboratories says, “It is imperative that the hesitation is wiped out. Because the general public will follow in the footsteps of our health workers. This is the moment where we have to put in our faith on our scientists who are working endlessly towards finding a cure.”
Amidst all of this, there are health workers who are willing to take the vaccine and are encouraging others to do so. They believe that they should be the ones setting an example for the people of this country to make it safe once again.
Along with the pandemic, vaccine hesitancy still remains a major concern. The question of life and death makes it even harder to fight.