Doctors seek to clear the air as public interest in vaccines picks up

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on January 12, 2021

Infrastructure in place to vaccinate doctors, says Dr Shashank Joshi, part of Maharashtra’s Covid taskforce

There is a “clear and calibrated vaccination plan” in place, with doctors and other Covid workers first in line for the jab, says Dr Shashank Joshi, responding to concerns about the Covid-19 vaccination programme that is scheduled to start on Saturday.

With a blow-by-blow account on the vaccine-journey, from Serum Institute of India’s (SII) factory to storage depots across the country, being aired into people’s living rooms, there is excitement and anxiety building up among people for more details on the vaccines. Some are keen to know how they can register on the Government Co-WIN system to take the vaccine, while others are worried if they can take the vaccine with their allergy or co-morbidities such as diabetes.

Dr Joshi, part of Maharashtra’s Covid taskforce, told BusinessLine that the infrastructure was already in place to vaccinate doctors and follow-up on possible reactions. Challenges exposed by the dry-runs, like internet connectivity in remote areas,have been addressed, he said.

Both vaccines (from SII and Bharat Biotech) are safe, he said, and the expected reaction is pain at the injection-spot and possible flu for a couple of days. In fact, Dr VK Paul, member (health) with NITI Aayog, also said at the media briefing that there was no significant risk from the vaccines. Addressing another oft-asked question on whether people with diabetes, hypertension and other such co-morbidities should take the vaccine, Joshi, who is also a reputed endocrinologist clarified, it was in their best interest to take it.

But the vaccination programme is still a while away for the general public, he said, adding that vaccinating doctors and other frontline and essential workers would be followed by vaccinating people over 50 years and those below 50, but with co-morbidities. The time to complete this first phase of vaccination would depend on the number of vaccinating centres and the number of people being vaccinated in a day, among other things, he added.

The list of healthcare professionals getting the vaccine is already with the Government, he said, adding that the situation was dynamic and future announcements would be made locally, as the vaccine is rolled out. The policy is from the Centre, but operationalising it is decentralised, he said. While vaccination of the general public was still a while away, he said, there was the national helpline (1075) for people to call in with their Covid-19 queries.

Dr Jayesh Lele, honorary secretary general of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), said that doctors who had hospitals have also volunteered their facilities to support the vaccination drive. The IMA had recently rallied together its members to get involved with the vaccination drive. “Several doctors have been working through the pandemic, treating patients,” he said, adding that they were not nervous and in fact, looked forward to taking the vaccine.

Published on January 12, 2021

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