The Union Health Ministry has advised states to run awareness programmes to ensure that healthcare workers take the COVID-19 vaccine, The Economic Times reported. This came amid low immunisation figures in several states.
Based on this advice, state governments came up with different strategies to tackle people’s hesitation towards getting inoculated. The strategies include appeals from state health ministers and administrative staff that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe, the news report suggested. Some states have also identified ‘COVID warriors’ who will be vaccinated to help dispel fears.
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“We have identified our top doctors and every day some well-known doctors would take the vaccine to give a message to our healthcare workers that these vaccines are safe,” Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey told the newspaper.
In Gujarat, all district collectors have also been asked to reach out to religious groups and minority institutions.
According to the report, Tamil Nadu – which has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination coverages in India so far – is seeking help from social influencers and religious leaders to ensure healthcare workers take the vaccine.
West Bengal’s Health Secretary HS Nigam told the newspaper that launching a "no side effects" campaign would not be enough and effort would be made to clear doubts that the health workers have.
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The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved Covishield, produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for restricted emergency use. However, beneficiaries will not be able to choose between the two jabs at this stage. Many have raised apprehensions about Covaxin as it is still in a phase-3 clinical trial.
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As of January 20, India had reported more than 1.05 crore confirmed COVID-19 cases. The death toll from the outbreak in the country stood at over 1.52 lakh. While more than 1.02 crore patients had recovered, 1.97 lakh cases remained ‘active’. Globally, more than 9.62 crore individuals have been infected by the virus and over 20.62 lakh people have died so far.
A speedy rollout of vaccines is being seen as the best way to curb the spread of COVID-19 and restore normalcy in the pandemic-battered global economy. Many countries have already vaccinated a large number of people from high-risk groups.
A total of 7.86 lakh beneficiaries had been vaccinated for COVID-19 in 14,119 sessions till the evening of January 20, according to a provisional report of the Union Health Ministry.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic