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First doctor to get Covid-19 in Delhi says vaccine hesitancy has reduced

Dr Gopal Jha (52) and his wife Dr Alpana Jha (50), both of whom work at mohalla clinics in East Delhi, were the first reported cases of doctors getting the viral infection in the capital.

Written by Anonna Dutt | New Delhi |
January 14, 2022 6:49:30 pm
Dr Gopal Jha takes the third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine (Express)

When he first heard about Covid-19 vaccination drive, Dr Gopal Jha thought the pandemic would soon come to an end. That was a while ago, and though he took the third dose of the vaccine on Wednesday, he continues to remain hopeful.

Dr Gopal Jha (52) and his wife Dr Alpana Jha (50), both of whom work at mohalla clinics in East Delhi, were the first reported cases of doctors getting the viral infection in the capital. They were part of Delhi’s first cluster of infections in March 2020, which branched from a woman who had returned from Saudi Arabia.

“I never had any hesitation about getting the vaccine. But when I first heard about it, I thought the pandemic would come to an end. Now, I have got one, two, three doses, but it still continues. I still have hope that it will end soon. We all need to continue taking precautions. The booster dose adds to our defence,” said Dr Jha after getting the shot along with his wife.

Through the year, he said, vaccine acceptance has grown: “The best part is that now patients come to me and tell me they have already taken the doses. The initial hesitation that people had, when I had to convince them to get the shots, is a thing of the past.”

But even after getting the precaution dose, he said, he ensures that he follows all protocols to prevent bringing the infection home: “I still wash all my clothes in warm water and take a shower after coming back from the clinic every day. I monitored all my symptoms closely.”

He said that the vaccine kept his family safe during the April-May wave when he saw many of his patients needing hospitalisation and oxygen support. “Thankfully, no one in my family got the disease during the last and so far the current wave. My wife and I were the first to receive the vaccine, then my 89-year-old mother also got it, and my 19-year-old daughter is vaccinated too. My son, however, is 13-years-old and is yet to get a shot,” said Dr Jha.

He had tested positive for the infection on March 18, 2020, followed by his wife and daughter testing positive a few days later. Dr Jha had already been briefed about the new viral infection, and he remembers asking his patient, who eventually became the first case in Delhi, to mask up soon after she came into her clinic.

“She was coughing very badly, and I immediately suspected she had the disease because she had a history of international travel. We gave her a mask, but by that time I think all the staff had already been exposed,” he said.

Although his wife and daughter had milder symptoms, he had breathing difficulty and drop in oxygen saturation. He had to be admitted to the intensive care unit and put on high flow nasal oxygen. “I did not lose hope. I had the wishes of the entire medical fraternity with me. And, after I completed my quarantine following hospitalisation, I rejoined work. My patients came to check on me because they had heard the news,” said Dr Jha.

He said he wasn’t scared of getting back to the job and believed that as long as he followed all precautions strictly, he would be okay.

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