561 get shots; 391 fails to show up on Day-1
Kohima, January 16: Amidst much doubt and apprehension, India on Saturday rolled out vaccines for COVID-19.
In Nagaland, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio kicked off the vaccination drive at Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) amidst apprehension even among health workers. But despite this, the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine was administered to Dr Sentimeren Aonok after the launching programme.
A total of 19,654 health workers will receive the first phase of vaccine.
Some health workers were of the view that it was too early to launch vaccination programme when the trails are still underway. Some health workers and frontline workers who are supposed to be administered are not so forthcoming, the reason being that lots of controversies still surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines. Not only in Nagaland but apprehension and nervousness have also surfaced in several hospitals and health centres across the country.
According to reports, out of the targeted 900 healthcare workers in Nagaland to receive the vaccine on Saturday, 339 failed to turn up for the vaccination, resulting in only 561 taking the first shot of the vaccine (62.33%) today.
State Immunization Officer (SIO), Dr Ritu Thurr said Phek District alone achieved cent percent vaccination as all the beneficiaries were present during the drive.
In other districts, the beneficiaries whose names were also notified failed to turn up for the vaccination, and the reason for their failure to turn up is yet to be ascertained, he said.
Nagaland had targeted to launch vaccination in 9 district hospitals, except Kiphire and Longleng, with 100 beneficiaries in every district totaling to 900.
Dr Thurr informed that all 11 districts will have more sessions for the remaining healthcare workers starting from Monday. He also urged citizens not to spread rumours and fake messages around the COVID-19 vaccine. The Covidshield vaccine has undergone all pre-clinical trials and is safe for use in the general population, he assured.
When contacted a couple of health workers said they were not willing to take the vaccine as there was some skepticism. They were of the opinion that there are still differences of opinion and conflicting reports about the vaccines, adding that all air of doubts and apprehension should be first cleared by experts. They expressed doubts about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, and some displeasure about the lack of clarity around them.
On January 3, the Drug Controller General of India gave emergency authorization to Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, even though the latter had not published any efficacy data, and AstraZeneca had made a dosage error during trial.
The Indian Medical Association on the other hand put out a statement recently, encouraging all its 3.5 lakh members to voluntarily come out to get vaccinated first to show to the world that these vaccines are safe and efficacious.
Nagaland has already received first consignment of 26,500 doses of vaccine from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. The vaccination will be carried out in pre-identified healthcare units – Government and private, for those who have registered in the portal.
Chief Minister Rio in a tweet said Nagaland has joined the country in the world’s largest vaccination programme and expressed hope that it would be the beginning of restoring communities to wholeness and health.
Not only health workers but public are in dilemma on whether to take the dose – the quandary is compounded by some health experts and doctors going against COVID-19 vaccines.
Some Christians have also opposed the launching of vaccine stating that it was against the wishes of the Almighty. These believers were also against Rubella vaccine in 2018.
Even as critics continue to raise doubts about the reliability of an indigenously developed coronavirus vaccine, which is still in the third phase of trial, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) scientists said that Covaxin manufactured by Bharat Biotech is safe and there should not be an iota of apprehension about its safety, and called upon people to dispel the myths and misconceptions around Covid-19 vaccines.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that there will be a gap of 28 days between two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and its effectiveness can be seen only after 14 days.
A total of 11 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine produced at Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune have been delivered across the country, according to Serum officials. Bharat Biotech has also shipped its vaccine Covaxin to several cities.
Some scientists have said that approving a vaccine without evidence from late trials is risky and a lack of transparency in the approval process could increase vaccine hesitancy in India, where more than 10.4 million coronavirus cases have been reported among the nearly 1.4 billion people.
The panel of experts that gave the nod to the vaccines met three times.
Opposition parties in the country have also expressed skepticism about vaccines. (Page News Service)