The Djinn of vaccine hesitancy: Is it still out ?
Ode Uduu, Shobha Shukla, Bobby Ramakant
Contd from previous issue
The vaccine rollout in the State has been riddled with various pre-existing inequities and structural and syste- mic issues that long ailed the State’s development.
Mahesh Kumar, a social activist who runs a home for children of brick kiln workers in outskirts of Kanpur, identified some reasons that fueled hesitancy. Mahesh said the uneducated ones were more likely to lean on the myths circulating regarding the vaccines to decide. For instance, the rumours of random unverified death because of the vaccines spur their decision against being vaccinated.
Mahesh Kumar also pointed out that half-baked messages regarding the vaccine fueled hesitance. Science has shown that COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of serious outcomes of COVID-19 disease and death. But the vaccine will not reduce the risk of getting infected with the virus. “Because of improper and half-baked messaging, many people had thought that if they take the vaccine, they will not get infected. So, when some vaccinated people contracted the virus, then some of those who were unvaccinated began doubting the vaccines,” remarked Mahesh. News of prominent doctors who headed Government-run hospitals of ‘getting infected again despite full vaccination’ made it more difficult.
Prior online registration to get a shot in India was a challenge for many. "Sometimes, even after registration, people failed to get the shot as vaccines were out of stock,” said Mahesh. Even last month, Lucknow had reported vaccine stockouts which hampered rollout of booster dose (referred to as precautionary dose).
Vaccine hesitancy in healthcare workers
Dr Surya Kant, one of the Brand Ambassadors for COVID-19 vaccination, National Health Mission, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, and part of the special task force for COVID-19 control, said that vaccine hesitancy was a pan India problem, and not confined to the State of Uttar Pradesh. In some States, like Kerala, which has a very high literacy rate, robust healthcare infrastructure, and strong advocacy programmes around vaccination, hesitancy was less. It takes strong advocacy programmes to mitigate vaccine hesitancy.
He added that in Uttar Pradesh, there was a lot of initial hesitancy, even among the doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, and health services administrators, to take the vaccine. Many rumours were floating around. (To be contd)