"Upsetting That Some Healthcare Workers Declining Vaccine," Says Centre

COVID-19 vaccine: "A lot of efforts have gone into making the vaccines," NITI Aayog member on health Dr VK Paul told reporters today

COVID-19 vaccination began in India on Saturday last

New Delhi:

Doctors, nurses and others involved in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic should not hesitate the get themselves vaccinated, the government said today. Top medical experts and members of the government think tank NITI Aayog have requested people eligible for vaccination not to fall for rumours on safety, and that minor adverse effects are common and should not deter people from inoculation.

"A lot of efforts have gone into making the vaccines. If our healthcare workers, especially doctors and nurses are declining it (vaccination), then it's very upsetting. We never know what form this pandemic could take, how big it could get, so please get vaccinated," NITI Aayog member on health Dr VK Paul told reporters today, the fourth day since COVId-19 vaccination began in India.

"The concerns about adverse effects and serious problems seem to be unfounded and insignificant. These two vaccines are safe," Dr Paul said, referring to the Serum Institute of India's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin.

"If there is an adverse effect, there are all preparations in place. But let me assure you that adverse events are not even taking place to a significant scale. The hesitancy about adverse effects among healthcare workers needs to end. I request them to get vaccinated and please be a role model, motivate others. This vaccine hesitancy needs to end," Dr Paul said, adding vaccination is the only route that will "take us to the end of this calamity".

At least 6.31 lakh people have been vaccinated in India till today, according to data released by the government on Day 4. No cases of severe or serious AEFI were reported from any state today, the government said.

Till Monday, 580 cases of adverse reactions have been observed and seven have been hospitalised. Two have died also but neither deaths are related to vaccines, the government has said.

The World Health Organisation defines AEFI or adverse events following immunisation as any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunisation and does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine. The AEFI percentage is 0.18 per cent, the government said today.

A large part of the controversy is over Covaxin, which has been cleared for emergency use while still in clinical trial. While India has cleared both Covishield and Covaxin, people can't decide which of the two they want to take.

Dr Paul said a nasal vaccine candidate is under consideration. "It's an exciting development and could be a game-changer," he said.

10,064 fresh COVID-19 cases were reported in the last 24 hours in India, the lowest in seven months. So far India has reported 1.05 crore cases and 1,52,556 deaths.