Kerala

Allergies, fear, mistrust add to vaccine hesitancy

From food allergies and fear of injections (trypanophobia) to anxiety and medical mistrust, a range of factors have contributed to vaccine hesitancy in Kerala, say health officials.

While some districts have crossed the 90% vaccination milestone, some others lag behind with a sizeable portion still reluctant to take the first jab.

“When asked, most people said they were worried about possible side-effects such as blood clots while some others expressed their apprehensions about the efficiency of the vaccine. Those have missed out will be traced through various methods and we plan to vaccinate the entire eligible population within September 30,” said an official.

Misinformation

Health workers cite misinformation as one major reason since people with a range of minor allergies seem sceptical. “It’s safe for persons who are allergic to some food or drug, but we usually advise them to take the vaccine at some major hospital. We also came across some myths like vaccinated people developing issues like infertility and heart inflammation.” the official said.

There is also a percentage who avoid the vaccine without any specific reason while some others consider it “unsafe” due to the quick development and approval stages.

“There are people with a wait-and-see attitude. We will be reaching out to them through local bodies and residents’ associations. Awareness programmes are already progressing and we have been urging them to take the shot since around 85% of patients who died of COVID-19 were unvaccinated,” the official said.

New strategy

As part of a new strategy to ensure maximum coverage, the department will be getting in touch with people who test negative. The list of persons who test negative each day will be handed over to a special team. The team will contact them and encourage them to take the vaccine.

“Even among teachers, nearly 25% was yet to take the first shot in some districts. We have launched vaccination camps exclusively for teachers, students and other staff members. Also, arrangements are in place for expectant mothers in all maternity clinics and hospital,” the official said.

Fear of needles

Varying degrees of trypanophobia is also a reason preventing a very small percentage of adults from getting the jab.

“There are people who refuse to take injections and blood tests because of the fear for the needles and surprisingly many are adults. Usually counselling helps and in certain cases professionals can recommend some coping mechanism. But the point is people in this category require a lot more persuasion and reassurance,” he added.


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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 1:08:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/allergies-fear-mistrust-add-to-vaccine-hesitancy/article36591419.ece

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