Private hospital staff more willing to take jab

Govt workers hesitant, question vaccine’s efficacy; young nurses unable to consent from families
A health worker checks a syringe during a vaccination drive at  KC General Hospital in Bengaluru. (Photo | Meghana Sastry, EPS)
A health worker checks a syringe during a vaccination drive at KC General Hospital in Bengaluru. (Photo | Meghana Sastry, EPS)

BENGALURU: 11 days after the vaccination drive rolled out in the state, the turnout in districts is way below 100 per cent. In Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits, most of the vaccinated individuals are from private hospitals, and beneficiaries from government hospitals are fewer. Some government hospital officials say that many workers are still apprehensive about getting vaccinated, while in private hospitals, apprehensions have come down and workers are coming forward to take the jab.

Statistics from BBMP data reveal that from January 19 to 27, 7,736 government beneficiaries were vaccinated, while in private hospitals, the number was collectively 34,707. Government medical staff say that young nurses and students, who constitute a majority of staff, are not getting consent from their families and are backing out, while others doubt the efficacy of the vaccine.

Dr C Nagaraj, Director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) said, “Apprehension is still there. When we ask students to take the jab, they say they are not allowed to. Another reason is fake news on social media about vaccines not working, and causing side-effects. We repeatedly give orientation sessions on how they can benefit by the vaccine, but many healthcare workers are hesitant. So far, only 56 per cent of beneficiaries have been vaccinated. We expected it to be better.”

At KC General Hospital, vaccination coverage is 53 per cent. “Since there is no compulsion, we cannot force anyone. As heads of administration, we have taken the vaccine so that others come forward, yet not many do. They give many reasons: that they have recently taken some other immunisation, or have comorbid conditions, or are allergic to drugs and cannot take the vaccine. Our target was to cover 70 per cent of the population by now, but we have done 53 per cent, and hope to educated them, so that those who missed can take it in the second round.”

The other reason cited is glitches in the CoWIN portal. “The portal has many issues, there is overlapping with many staffers from RGICD enlisting to get vaccinated at Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, which is causing confusion. There are other glitches too,” said Dr Nagaraj.Meanwhile, Dr HM Prasanna, president of Private Hospital and Nursing Association, pointed out that better awareness in the private sector has helped in better turnout.

“From the first day, heads of hospitals have come forward to take the jab. When we take it, others feel confident and reassured and are willing to get vaccinated. In the private sector, a health worker has to bear medical expenses, while in the government sector, the government bears the expense. So many private sector staffers understand that if they get Covid, they have to pay their bills, and take the vaccine.”

This apart, it was noted that in BBMP limits, daily session sites in government hospitals are fewer than in private hospitals. “There are more private hospitals, and more staff to carry out duties other than vaccination. In government hospitals, there are few workers and more patients, so many hospitals have not been carrying out vaccination every day,” said a BBMP health officer.

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The New Indian Express