Why healthcare workers are ‘scared’ to take the COVID vaccine?

Scientists have said that side effects are natural to any vaccine. However, vaccine hesitancy has been witnessed in some states with several questioning the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Hyderabad: On Monday, Telangana vaccinated 20,359 central, state and private health care workers in 495 sessions planned as part of the massive inoculation drive of the COVID-19 vaccine. The number only translates to 47.4 per cent of the 42,915 beneficiaries planned that day.

This is a slight improvement in the percentage of beneficiaries from 45.5 percent in the previous vaccination session on Friday.

Though it is too early to extrapolate on the data, the percentage of inoculation of those in healthcare is decreasing with the passing day. While the vaccination drive saw a massive turnout of 94 percent on day 1 (January 16), it only declined to 82 percent on day 2 (January 18), 71 percent on day 3 (January 19), and 57 percent on day 4 (January 21).

With the top health department officials, doctors and government authorities issuing statements on the importance of taking a vaccine, the declining percentages seem alarming.

“There is an obvious scare and doubt among the registered beneficiaries after a health worker in Nirmal died a day after taking the vaccine,” a state public health department official told siasat.com on condition of anonymity.

Two health care workers died in the state so far– a 42-year-old ambulance driver died in Nirmal on January 20 and a 45-year-old Anganwadi worker died on January 24, five days after receiving a vaccine shot in Warangal (urban).

The department of public health, however, said that both the deaths were unrelated to the vaccination.

That is not all. A reliable source in the health department told siasat.com that a senior medical officer in the city has asked some young doctors in their team–both men and women–who are planning to expand family, specifically not to take the vaccine. “It is not a proven theory, but the fertility levels in women and the testosterone levels in men can fluctuate with the chemical reactions caused due to vaccine,” the medical officer has said as per the source.

Earlier, siasat.com reported that the doctors at state-run Osmania General Hospital who underwent immunization complained variety of illnesses–including severe fever, fatigue and body pains. “Every vaccine does have minor side effects but it feels like the percentage of people with these reactions is more with the COVID-19 vaccine,” a doctor, who did not want to be named, had said.

Scientists have said that side effects are natural to any vaccine. However, vaccine hesitancy has been witnessed in some states with several questioning the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. “All the rumors are baseless. We are all clearly given the do’s and dont’s while administering the vaccine by the central health ministry; it is effective and proven. Though taking a vaccine is voluntary, I appeal that everyone must take it,” said a vaccine in-charge medical officer at a popular city-based government hospital. “There are bound to be a few side effects, but those turning fatal is a rare occurrence,” she added.

On Sunday, health minister Eatala Rajendar too reiterated that the vaccine is safe and can be trusted by all. 

“Our whole team of doctors took a vaccine shot, it is only other frontline workers who are intimidated to get vaccinated; a few of them mentioned it to me that their family members are scared,” said Neelima, a government doctor.

“We are trying to bring awareness among them that taking a vaccine is safe and efficient,” she added.

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