Amid reports of vaccine hesitancy among doctors and health workers, the Government on Tuesday tried to allay their fears saying that the concerns about adverse effects and serious problems, as of now, seem to be unfounded, negligible and insignificant and that the adverse events following immunisation reported “were fairly low, in fact lowest so far in the world in the first three days.”
It also urged healthcare workers not to hesitate to get the Covid-19 vaccine as “it was their societal responsibility to get inoculated.”
Both the vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin — are safe and a lot of effort has gone into making them, NITI Aayog member (health) Dr VK Paul said as he lamented that “It is saddening that healthcare workers, especially doctors and nurses, are declining to take it.”
“We are not fulfilling our societal responsibility if a vaccine assigned to us is not being taken. The whole world is clamouring for a vaccine. I request you to please accept the jab. Vaccine hesitancy should extinguish because Covid-19 inoculation is taking us towards the elimination of this calamity,” Paul said and disclosed that he himself has taken a jab of Covaxin.
“We are very fortunate that we are running this vaccination drive at a time when the pandemic looks like to be in a controlled situation. So in this period, by taking the jabs, we have to create a wall of vaccine-induced immunity and be ready for any kind of eventuality in future,” he said.
“Data show that we are in a comfortable situation and we would like to reassure you that the two Covid-19 vaccines are safe. Of total vaccinated, 0.18 per cent were adverse events following immunisation, while 0.002 per cent had to be hospitalised which is fairly low,” said Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan at a press conference here.
“These are fairly low, in fact lowest so far as we know in the world in the first three days,” Bhushan assured in the backdrop of a section of health workers from across the country questioning the efficacy of the vaccines.
Latest updated data shows that overall, India has vaccinated 6.31 lakh healthcare workers since the commencement of the drive on January 16. No case of severe or serious AEFI reported in any State today,” the Ministry said in a statement.
He said that in a span of 24 hours, 2,23,669 people were vaccinated for Covid-19 across 3,930 sessions taking the cumulative total of people vaccinated to 4,54,049 (across 7,860 sessions conducted so far) in the country, he said.
“The important point here is that if we look at the first week figures then the US conducted vaccinations of 5,56,208 people so that number will already cross by day 3. In the UK, in the first seven days 1,37,897 were vaccinated, 516 people were vaccinated in France in the first week and in Russia 52,000 people were vaccinated in the first week. So these are the comparative figures for you and we have just started so we will pick up speed,” he said.
About whether a person is liable for compensation in case of an adverse event, Bhushan said, “The vaccine (Covaxin) which has been given emergency use authorisation under clinical trial mode is accompanied by three documents. One is the factsheet which is read out and explained to beneficiaries, second is a consent form... And the third is an adverse event reporting form where the recipient has to report the adverse event for the first seven days.
“There, it is clearly mentioned that if there is a causal relationship between immunisation and the adverse event whether it is severe or serious the hospitalisation costs would be borne by the authorities. That is the position as it exists now,” he said.
Bhushan said nine States, including Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, are among the better performing States and Union Territories with over 70 per cent coverage.