NEW DELHI: Low turnout of healthcare workers for Covid-19 vaccination has become a major worry for the Centre, top officials conceded on Tuesday.
“The whole world is clamouring for a vaccine. If we still decline then it is a matter of sadness. ... I will urge them (healthcare workers) to please endorse the vaccine. We have to start non-Covid services. Those who are fortunate to receive the vaccine should not refuse it,” said V K Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog who also heads the national task force on Covid-19.
“A lot of efforts have gone into making the vaccines. If our healthcare workers, especially doctors and nurses are declining it (vaccination), then it's very upsetting,” he added before making an impassioned appeal to healthcare workers to complete this “societal responsibility.”
“We never know what form this pandemic could take, how big it could get, so please get vaccinated,” he said in a briefing on the Covid-19 outbreak response by the Union government.
So far, nearly 6.31 lakh people have taken the jabs which are being offered only to healthcare workers in the first phase due to limited supply.
Paul also reiterated that concerns about serious problems related to the two vaccines are unfounded and insignificant, referring to the Serum Institute of India's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.
"If there is an adverse effect, there are all preparations in place. But let me assure you that adverse events are not even taking place to a significant scale. The hesitancy about adverse effects among healthcare workers needs to end,” he said.
“I request them to get vaccinated and please be a role model, motivate others. This vaccine hesitancy needs to end,” Paul underlined, adding vaccination is the only route that will "take us to the end of this calamity".
Till Monday a total of 580 cases of adverse reactions have been observed and seven had been hospitalised. However, the government said that adverse events following immunization (AEFIs) were only 0.18% of the total vaccinations, much lesser than what was being reported in several countries and very few of these were serious cases.
The two deaths that have been recorded in people following vaccinations are unrelated to vaccines, the government has said.
The Centre had set a target of vaccinating nearly 30 crore population by July this year which include healthcare and frontline workers, those above 50 years and people with serious comorbidities.
It had also said that in the beginning nearly 100 people will be vaccinated at each of the 3,000 planned vaccination sites however less than 3 lakh people have been turning up to take jabs every day so far.