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Covid vaccine survey: People sceptical about being first in line, say health teams

“How can we give them such assurance? The general feeling is that once they are on the list, they will be bound to take the vaccine because the Epidemic Act is in place," an ASHA worker, who is part of the survey, said.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, Vadodara | December 12, 2020 9:59:55 am
covid-19 vaccine ahmedabad, covid vaccine survey ahmedabadDr Devesh Patel, Medical Officer for Health, Vadodara Municipal Corporation, said, "We have told our teams to collect information only from those who are willing. (Express Image/Representational)

With the ground being prepared for the first shot of Covid-19 vaccine, expected to be launched next year, the health teams of city and district administrations in Gujarat have started preparing a first preferential reference list of persons above 50 years of age and those with comorbidities.

However, the teams that have fanned out across Vadodara, Ahmedabad and Rajkot are facing resistance on the ground with people apprehensive about the upcoming vaccine and therefore, sharing of personal data.

People with comorbid conditions like diabetes, high or low blood pressure, cancer, AIDS, kidney-related ailments, heart disease, mental illness will make it to the list of top priority.

In Vadodara, 823 teams of two health workers each have started making rounds of various city wards since Thursday. Two days into the door-to-door survey, the teams have faced mixed response but mostly unwilling persons, who are sceptical about being first in the line for an “unknown” vaccine.

An ASHA worker, who is part of the survey, the team told this newspaper, “Out of every 10 homes that we covered, we have been able to get details in two or three. So, almost 70 per cent people are not willing to give out their information fearing that they will be forced to take the vaccine. We are trying to convince them that it is not mandatory.”

Assurances from workers of no side-effects

“How can we give them such assurance? The general feeling is that once they are on the list, they will be bound to take the vaccine because the Epidemic Act is in place. We are trying to make them understand that this is not signing up for a trial but for the actual dose once it rolls out formally. Those who are aware are coming forward and giving their details,” said the ASHA worker.

The apprehension is natural, officials say. Dr Devesh Patel, Medical Officer for Health, VMC said, “We have told our teams to collect information only from those who are willing. In any case, it is not a compulsory exercise and we cannot force anyone to take the vaccine. Once we upload the first list on the national portal and the rollout happens, others will automatically come around. We faced similar resistance from healthcare sector but most of them have now come around and added names of their staff.”

Patel said that although the administration was referring to the electoral roll to mark areas of importance, the survey was mainly “door-to-door.” “The entire list has to be readied by December 17,” Patel said.

In Ahmedabad, a taskforce of 1,500 teams including Auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) workers, anganwadi and ASHA workers and government teachers is on the ground. “The door-to-door survey is not based on voter details or Aadhaar card details but would cover every household,” Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) Medical Officer of Health Dr Bhavin Solanki said.

Divided under 76 urban health clinics (UHCs), in the first phase of vaccination, health care workers are to be covered followed by frontline workers in the second phase and people with more than 50 years of age and those with comorbid conditions in the third phase.

Already more than 40,000 health workers are identified for the vaccination from all Covid hospitals of AMC.

The civic body officials revealed that though the data of health care workers of the AMC is available for the first phase of vaccination, the data to be collected and submitted by the private institutes is being delayed.

On the delay, Dr Kirit Gadhavi, president of Ahmedabad Medical Association (AMA) said, “It is a lengthy process. But now we have simplified the form that can be accessed on the mobile phone as well for the doctors to access, fill and submit it online quickly.”

The second phase of vaccination that will cover the frontline workers is estimated to cover more than 50,000 individuals.

Further, the AMC has scheduled 100 Ice Lined Refrigerators (ILRs) for vaccine storage while another 20 additional ILRs are expected to be received.

In Rajkot, 958 survey teams fanned are due to complete the task by Saturday for Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC). Rajkot Municipal Commissioner Udit Agrawal said that the survey teams will create a database of these people treating a polling booth as a unit. He said that the teams are requesting people to show their photo-identity cards except for Aadhaar card, for identification and uploading details on Co-win application.

“Until Friday evening, the teams had completed about 40 per cent of work, having identified around 45,000 people. The work will be over within next couple of days,” Agrawal told The Indian Express, adding, “One-three per cent of the people may not be cooperating and that is understandable. Their main concern is receiving visitors during these times. So, in such cases, teams are not getting their personal details but visits to their homes at least gives us an idea as to where these people are.”

Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has set up the Adajan Health Centre as a vaccine storage centre to serve 52 health centres across the city. A total of 542 vaccinators have been made ready. Among them, single vaccinator can give a vaccine to 100 people in a day. Health department officials claimed that the person who had taken vaccine will be kept under observation for half an hour.

SMC Deputy Health Commissioner, Dr. Ashish Naik said, “The first beneficiaries of the vaccine will be around 29,000 health workers of government and private hospitals followed by frontline workers of SMC and government offices like collector department, education department. In the third phase, the vaccine will be given to those who are above 50 years old.”

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