Centre urges health workers to not refuse vaccine, tries to allay concerns

The Centre sought to reassure "with the data we have seen that the two COVID-19 vaccines are safe"

Vaccine
A medic administers the first dose of COVID vaccine to NITI Aayog member VK Paul | File Photo: PTI

The Centre on Tuesday said COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy should end so that the pandemic could be defeated. It sought to reassure that the two vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin — are safe and urged healthcare workers not to decline being vaccinated.

Dr. Dr VK Paul, Niti Aayog member and COVID-19 task force chairman, has called it very upsetting when healthcare workers, especially doctors and nurses, decline taking vaccine. “We never know what form this pandemic could take…so please get vaccinated,” he said.

A nationwide inoculation drive against pandemic began on Saturday (January 16) with the two vaccines so far approved by India’s health regulators for restricted emergency use. The Covishield vaccine is developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and being developed by the Serum Institute of India while Covaxin is indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech.

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However, some hesitancy were seen among the recipients. Notably, Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors has condemned the approval of Covaxin since its Phase 3 trial is still going on, and has also said they are given the choice of vaccine they’d like to take.

Dr Paul, however, sought to reassure “with the data we have seen that the two COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Vaccine hesitancy should end. How will we defeat the pandemic then?”

“We are not fulfilling our societal responsibility if the vaccine assigned to you is not being taken. The whole world is clamouring for the vaccine. I request the doctors and nurses to accept the vaccine,” said the Niti Aayog member.

Related news | Who should avoid Covaxin jab? Bharat Biotech lists out medical conditions

Stating that 4,54,049 people have been vaccinated so far, the health ministry said 0.18% adverse events happened following immunization and 0.002% of people were hospitalised following immunization. “These are fairly low and the lowest so far in the world in the first three days.”

It added, “The concerns about adverse effects and serious problems, as of now, seem to be insignificant. We would like to reassure you that the two COVID-19 vaccines are safe.”

“One of the two vaccines is given emergency use authorization under clinical trial mode. In a document for this vaccine, it’s mentioned if there’s causal relation between immunization and adverse event, severe or serious, hospitalization cost would be borne by authorities.”

Currently, there are around 2 lakh active cases and the “number is declining”, according to the ministry. “Daily number of deaths less than 140 after eight months.

Dr. Paul said a nasal vaccine candidate has also been identified which could be a game-changer if it works. “It has come for consideration for Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials,” he said.

So far, a total of 141 people have been found positive with the UK strain in the country, the health ministry said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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