Vaccination picks up in industries, availability a challenge

Govt. had instructed units to get employees inoculated in a structured manner

August 01, 2021 12:59 am | Updated 08:25 am IST - CHENNAI

Encouraging sign: Officials said vaccine hesitancy among
workers had come down to a large extent.

Encouraging sign: Officials said vaccine hesitancy among workers had come down to a large extent.

Vaccination has picked up pace across industries in Tamil Nadu in recent days. While hesitancy levels have come down, the availability of doses remains a key challenge.

Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu recently told The Hindu that the government had instructed industries to get their employees vaccinated in a structured manner.

“For instance, if a company employs 1,000 workers, we have told them to start by covering 200 workers, and proceed further in batches. This will ensure that the work environment is safe, and even if another COVID-19 wave emerges, the industries can operate. We are monitoring the progress, but the key challenge is the availability of vaccine doses,” he said.

A senior official from the Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine said hesitancy levels had come down to a large extent.

“There are always one or two exceptions across society. The plan is to cover a large number of employees who are willing to take the jab, and then to proceed from there,” he said.

Last week, the department issued fresh guidelines for workplaces and industries, and said staff and their family should be considered a high-priority group and inoculated with both doses.

The official said the department had instructed them to continuously monitor the workforce because there was a possibility of future spread in industries.

“For the revival of the economy, businesses should function without facing absenteeism and monitoring is the best strategy,” he said.

TVS Motor Company, along with Sundaram Clayton and its group firms, had said a free vaccination drive would be held for all employees and immediate family members. They aimed to cover 35,000 direct and indirect employees across the country.

A company spokesperson said around 99% of the firm’s employees had been immunised, and camps were being arranged at regular intervals for employees and families.

Senior officials from India Cements said almost 99% employees and their family, except those affected by COVID-19, had been vaccinated. A drive had also been started for those who had recovered.

Creating awareness

“Initially, there was reluctance among some employees. However, we effectively counselled them and created awareness on the importance of inoculation, and got them vaccinated,” a company official said.

A Hyundai Motor India Ltd company spokesperson said through its vaccination drive, 92% of its 15,700 eligible employees, including service personnel, had been covered with at least one dose. However, some service personnel from logistics providers had been excluded as they were being covered by their own employers. Camps have also been started for families of employees.

JK Tyre & Industries Limited has about 2,300 employees, including management staff and operative personnel.

Vijay Deshpande, adviser-HR, JK Tyre, said in the 45-plus category, the company had covered 100% of its employees with the first dose, while 32% workforce, including permanent and contractual employees, had received both doses.

In terms of the workforce in the 18-44 age group, 89% employees had got the first jab, he added.

S. Kannan, deputy general secretary, CITU, Tamil Nadu, said vaccination picked up pace because of the State government’s orders, and companies making inoculation a requirement to allow employees inside factories.

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