BENGALURU: While the Union Health Ministry has set a deadline of March 6 to wrap up the vaccination drive for all healthcare and frontline workers, Karnataka which was ranked first for inoculating the highest number of beneficiaries till recently has slipped to the fourth spot. It is just around 2 per cent away from becoming the worst performer in vaccinating healthcare workers. Data released by the State Health Ministry shows that so far, 41 per cent of beneficiaries, including frontline workers, have been vaccinated.
The low hit rate is because of vaccine hesitancy, erratic internet connectivity glitching CoWIN portal, fears of vaccine side-effects and beneficiaries waiting for more information on the vaccines, experts pointed out. While the Centre is trying to handhold states to achieve better Covid vaccination targets and is conducting reviews to find reasons behind hesitancy, Dr Anant Bhan, bioethics researcher who is closely monitoring vaccinerelated issues, said, “Besides safety issues, the fall in cases over last weeks too has perhaps dampened the feeling of urgency and worries about Covid-related risks.”
Interestingly, many beneficiaries in several districts have stayed away as they fear that they have to abstain from alcohol after taking the vaccine. But the health ministry has clarified that consuming alcohol is not an issue. But the government has to find reasons behind the tepid response and address issues, including platform glitches and worries among beneficiaries, experts said. Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar, after inaugurating an obstetric triage at Vani Vilas Hospital and Respiratory ICU at Victoria Hospital on Wednesday, said, “Medical students should become ambassadors of this vaccination drive and other staff should be inspired by them. But some students are citing exams as a reason not to take the vaccine.
There should be no link between the vaccine and the exam as there are no side-effects.” He said that some states have threatened to cut the salaries of healthcare workers if they do not come forward to take the vaccine. “But we don’t have such restrictions here,” he added. Following the Union Health Ministry’s order, the State Government will carry out a mopup round for healthcare workers by February 24 and for frontline workers by March 6.