In Lok Nayak Hospital run by Delhi government, for instance, only 79 healthcare workers were vaccinated in three days. AIIMS, which operates under the central government, inoculated 163 people. In comparison, 245 and 244 people were present for the jab, respectively, at Apollo Indraprastha Hospitals and Max Hospital, Saket. A similar trend has been observed in many other hospitals also.
“There is vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers,” explained a doctor at Lok Nayak Hospital. “Many of them want to wait and watch before taking the plunge.” He added that the glitches in the CoWin app and the lack of flexibility required to add a beneficiary in place of someone who isn’t willing to receive the shot – an anomaly that has now been corrected – also led to low turnout. “We are hoping the numbers will increase significantly in the days to come,” the doctor added.
On Wednesday, the Delhi State Cancer Institute organised a contact programme to dispel common myths about the Covid-19 vaccines. Dr Pragya Shukla, the nodal officer for vaccination at the hospital, said the participants wanted to know how long the immunity would last and whether the vaccine being given would be effective against the newer strains of the Covid coronavirus. “Many people asked how the scientists had managed to come up with a vaccine in such a short time. We tried to answer them and encouraged them to take the vaccine,” she said. Other state-run hospitals are planning similar exercises to motivate staffers.
All hospitals, state-run and private, are administering Covishield, the vaccine developed by Oxford/Astrazeneca in collaboration with Serum Institute of India. The central government hospitals are giving Covaxin, developed by Indian Council of Medical Research in collaboration with Bharat Biotech. “The data for the third phase trials of Covaxin isn’t available yet. That is causing apprehension among health workers and so, the low turnout,” said a doctor at AIIMS.
AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria took the Covaxin shot on the very first day of the vaccination programme to reassure people about the vaccine’s safeness. The heads of Safdarjung and Ram Manohar Lohia hospitals have also taken Covaxin. “It is important to lead by example. In our hospital, all senior doctors are taking the vaccine,” said Dr Rajesh Chawla of Apollo. Raman Bhaskar, director, Manipal Hospital, is amenable to staffers taking the shot at a time of their choice.