New Delhi: Since the beginning of COVID vaccination drive in India from January 16, low turnout for vaccination shot has been the talk of the town. According to the data released by the Union Health Ministry, between Saturday and Monday, more than 3 lakh people received vaccine jab in 7,704 sessions. However, many health workers, who were to receive the vaccine, did not turn up, because of vaccine hesitancy.
What Is Vaccination Hesitancy?
According to the World Health Organisation, vaccination hesitancy refers to the delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite the availability of vaccine services. It is influenced by factors such as complacency, convenience and confidence.
So, How Can We Tackle Vaccination Hesitancy?
Till now, nearly 10 lakh beneficiaries in India have been inoculated, but growing concerns over COVID-19 vaccines safety has forced the government to reassure people and urge them to get their jab. On Thursday (January 21), the Union Health Ministry of India launched the mega awareness campaign for COVID-19 vaccination drive and urged people to make it into a mass campaign so that more and more people can get vaccines in the coming few months.
NDTV speaks with experts to discuss the common concerns causing vaccine hesitation and what the government is doing to fight it. Talking about the common hesitations or concerns with the vaccines, Dr SK Sarin, Chairman, Delhi COVID Panel said,
Hesitancy and fear only come to you from the unknown. If things are known to you, you are aware of the signs and the way vaccines have been developed, if it is a safe and effective vaccine for coronavirus, your fear will go away. Therefore it is very important that we know everything about it and knowledge plays a very big role. Secondly, if we don’t know about a particular thing, we might spread rumours and create confusion in others mind. So, the campaign by the government, which is basically an awareness campaign and urges people to get their jab when asked to, will play a very big role.
Dr Sarin further said that we doctors can become role models for everyone and added,
If the general public will see that their doctor has taken their jab and is fit and fine, they will be motivated to get vaccinated. In the next coming days, with the government, I think, it is doctors again who have to wear this cape and motivate people to get vaccinated and convinced them that the vaccines that are approved in India for fighting coronavirus are safe. Approximately 10 lakh people have been vaccinated in our country till now and this number itself is a proof that the vaccines are safe in nature. New data is also getting published in the coming few days and I think that will also help in ensuring it to the masses that the vaccines are safe for use.
On the other hand, Dr Hemant Deshmukh, Dean King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai spoke about the fear among the healthcare workers community for the vaccines and said,
Doctors who want to take the shot are worried because the vaccines lack scientific data, but in coming few days it will come and I am certain after seeing that data doctors and healthcare workers will put their arm forward. One thing is very clear, if you allow healthcare workers to decide and develop trust with the vaccine, I think it will work as a step forward and will help in ensuring that the COVID19 vaccination programme is successful.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.