Good COVID-19 vaccination coverage must for breaking transmission, say experts

A COVID-19 vaccination drive in progress at a centre, in New Delhi. File

A COVID-19 vaccination drive in progress at a centre, in New Delhi. File

No faith in the vaccine, mistrust in the fast roll-out of the vaccines to possibility of governments hiding adverse reaction data -- these were listed among the top reasons why some in the eligible India population, the The Hindu spoke to, have refused to take even the first shot of the COVID vaccine so far.

The problem gets compounded with the Health Ministry’s own admission earlier this week that 6.5 crore persons are now overdue for their second dose of COVID vaccine. “Good vaccination coverage is a must for breaking transmission,” say experts.

“Most unvaccinated persons are waiting to see how it goes,” said a senior health worker at Safdarjung Hospital. “Despite the best efforts to educate and create awareness about the need for vaccines by the government and medical staff persons often tell us that they want to wait till a sizeable population is vaccinated.

“They are filtering to see the adverse reactions because of an alleged narrative that adverse reactions aren’t entirely reported,” she said.

India’s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage exceeds 161.92 crore currently said a release issued by the Ministry on Sunday.

Dr. Rajeev Jayadevan, vice chairman, Research Cell, Indian Medical Association, Kerala notes that the most reliable indicators of vaccine effectiveness are critical illness and death rates (not “hospitalisations” any more).

Experts have previously suggested that there is a need to bring in measure to ensure sustained vaccination.

``While majority of Indians would accept the vaccine, given the large population of India, even a small proportion of hesitant individuals would translate to millions of unvaccinated individuals. Strategic measures and policy decisions to enhance the rate of COVID-19 vaccination should be continuously planned and implemented in India,’’ noted a nationwide study done to understand the public’s perception about COVID-19 vaccines.

The study was conducted in December 2020 where a few COVID-19 vaccines were anticipated in India in early 2021. The study is titled ``COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in India: State of the nation and priorities for research’’ was published in December 2021.

“COVID vaccination has only been give emergency use authorisation which means you are willing participating in a public trial with limited legal powers. This is unacceptable,” said a retired government official whose entire family including elderly parents with co-morbidities have opted to not vaccinate.

He also expressed apprehension about how in such a short time a number of companies have brought out an array of vaccines. Medical experts, however, say that they are aggressively counselling people to opt for the vaccination.

“Vaccines protect against deaths,” said Dr. Anil Bansal, member IMA. Stating that this is now a proven fact he said that people need to be educated.

“We have to work with the people and help each other to break the pandemic chain. We are even encouraging parents to have their eligible children vaccinated. Adults must do their part,” he said.

Dr.Srinivas Midivelly, consultant paediatrician, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad said that physicians are seeing the benefits of vaccination.

“During this third wave we are seeing more number of children are getting affected and we feel that one of the reasons might be because they are unvaccinated,” he said.

The Health Ministry has stressed upon the need for vaccination and need to follow COVID appropriate behaviour to ensure safety of all.

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 7:01:56 am |