January 17, 2021 6:20:29 am
While several prominent medical practitioners across Gujarat — both from private and public sector — made it a point to get themselves vaccinated for Covid-19 on Saturday, several others stayed away for a number of reasons.
The 20 vaccination centres under the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) saw an average turnout of 55.75 per cent – lower than the state’s average of 73.75 per cent on Saturday. Of the 2,000 targeted healthcare and frontline workers under AMC, 1,115 received vaccines.
In fact, AMC made it a point to get their medical officer of health Dr Bhavin Solanki, the additional medical officer of health, eight deputy health officers, and medical officers of all urban health centres vaccinated at the Chandkheda community health care centre (CHC).
The move came in a bid to “set an example and to boost confidence of healthworkers,” said an AMC official.
“We are seeing resistance from class three and four workers majorly, more along the lines that ‘we want to wait and see and then decide if we want to take the vaccine’. So we have decided to start vaccinating senior health workers and doctors so that it gives them the confidence. One cannot forcibly say that ‘you’ve to take the vaccine’ because that will only antagonise them further,” added a senior health official of AMC. AMC is expecting the turnout to pick up after four to five sessions.
Meanwhile, state immunisation officer Nayan Jani added that three to four sessions a week is expected for Covid-19 vaccination.
Dr KJ Upadhyay, head of department of medicine at BJ Medical College, who was at the Ahmedabad Civil hospital vaccine venue, and has worked closely with the state government in controlling swine flu and training others, also gave it a miss. Speaking to this paper, Dr Upadhyay said, “I missed it because I have already been RT-PCR positive for Covid-19. I have only saved a vaccine for another of health worker. I completely advocate for the vaccine and will get my elderly mother, as well as my children and wife to take it whenever it is available for them.”
In Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society(GMERS) Hospital, Sola that recorded a turnout of only 29 health workers against the targeted 100, saw a similar trend, with many who tested positive earlier for Covid-19, choosing to stay away.
However, Dean Dr Nitin Vora, who was the first to get a shot at the site, said “The vaccine is the only way to restore normalcy” and while “we may not know how long a vaccine immunity will last as only time will tell that, but data says it gives some form of immunity and is completely safe.”
At several sites, including at Sarkhej CHC and Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, a shortfall in targeted 100 vaccine beneficiary per site saw others being called in for the shot, who were not earlier listed.
At the Community Health Centre (CHC) at Sanand where BJP MLA from the town Kanubhai Patel was in attendance, two women who were pregnant, and had come to be inoculated, were turned away.
“More than 80 beneficiaries have been vaccinated. We turned away two women who were found to be pregnant. One was an anganwadi worker and one woman was from our health centre. Three private doctors missed the vaccination because of medical emergencies, while three others cited personal issues for not attending the vaccination drive,” said Dr Sandhya Rathod, who looked after entire vaccination drive at Sanand CHC.
Talking about fears expressed by the beneficiaries, Dr Rathod said, “Most of the apprehensions were from women. While some were scared of injections in general, there were others who approached me to know if it was safe for them to get vaccinated during menstruation.”
Among the first to get vaccinated were doctors operating private clinics in Sanand town, which is also known to be Gujarat’s automobile hub.
“I am a general practitioner at Sanand town. We come in contact with the patients on a daily basis. So I decided to take the vaccination for my own protection. Secondly, when people on general see that a doctor is himself getting vaccinated, the confidence level regarding the vaccine automatically goes up,” said Dr Paresh Prajapati, a general practitioner in the town who was the first to receive the shot.
Leela Rawat, 55, a child development project officer at Sanand was the first woman to take the vaccine.
“I have taken the vaccine to encourage my staff members including the anganwadi workers to follow suit and take the vaccine.” Rawat has worked for 33 years with the government and has been working at Sanand for the last two years.
Devendra Makwana (32) who works as an assistant in an operation theatre at a private hospital in Sanand said, “During the Covid period, all operation theatres were shut down. So I was forced to take up nursing work in the same hospital. Now that I deal directly with patients, some of whom could be suspected Covid patients, I decided to get myself vaccinated. If the vaccine works, then it is a win-win for all.”
Kalpana Parmar (48), a supervisor of Anganwadi wrokers who volunteered to be inoculated at Sanand said she trusts the government regarding the safety of the Covid vaccine.
“In the beginning, I had a lot of apprehensions. This was largely due to people talking about the side effects of the vaccine. But I think, because the government is doing this vaccination drive for its own employees, I think it would be safe. The government won’t risk the lives of its own employees. Secondly, seeing us others will get encouraged to take the vaccine.” Parmar said.
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