Two years on, lack of faith in vaccines is holding back 100% coverage

By Supriya Ramesh

New Delhi, April 9 : Right when the world decided to come back to normalcy after the Covid-19 fear and panic for two years, infections in India can be seen growing rapidly indicating that the pandemic is still far from being under control.

There are over 30,000 active cases across the country with 6,155 new Covid cases recorded on Saturday (April 8). The daily positivity rate crossed 5 per cent on a national average and stood at 5.63 percent. The weekly positivity rate stood at 3.47 per cent, said the health ministry.

Looking at the flip side, according to the health ministry data, India reported nine fatalities making the total death count stand at 5,30,954. The number of discharged people stood at 4.41 crore as per data shared by the ministry on Saturday.

Even though the data on the vaccination rate in the country is very encouraging, a lot of factors are still playing a major role in keeping back people from getting themselves vaccinated. Apprehensions of side effects to a lot of false information that has surfaced over time are adding to the fear of vaccination among people.

“A lot of negative propaganda against vaccines was promoted on social media platforms, which in turn led to people missing the second shot or booster dose,” said Dr Ravindra Gupta, Head of Department (Internal Medicine), C K Birla Hospital, Gurugram.

As of now, a total of 220.66 crore vaccines have been administered since the nationwide vaccination drive began on January 16, 2021. A total of 95.21 crore and 22.87 crore of second and precaution doses have been taken, respectively.

If we look at the number of doses of vaccines administered in the last 24 hours, the number stands at 1,963.

The vaccination rates remain even more grim in the rural areas. Talking to IANS, Parvesh Nandal (38), a resident of Garhi Bohar village in Rohtak said that most of the localities in his village have not got their shots, but they have somehow obtained certificates for both the doses. “After several deaths were noted despite vaccines, most of the villagers avoided taking it,” he said.

The rumours have spread among villagers and the fear does not seem to leave them. It is the fear of losing their loved ones and living with the virus.

“The first time my grandfather got Covid, he recovered. The shocking part of the story is that despite getting the second dose, he contracted Covid again, which he succumbed to,” said Vijay Dangi (37), a resident of Bahadurgarh, Jhajjar.

Dangi, who has his wife, a son and mother living with him, said that they are highly sceptical about getting the second dose.

Experts have been saying and still assert that vaccines are important and have helped immensely.

“The benefit of vaccines is very obvious now as the death rates have gone down drastically. Side effects have not been seen or proved by any studies done so far,” Dr Ravindra Gupta said.

“A major point to note is that the vaccine reduces the severity of infection,” said Dr Neha Gupta, Senior Infectious Diseases Physician, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.

Talking to IANS, Dr Harshal R. Salve, Professor at the Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS, said the surge in Covid-19 infections might be due to a new variant and waning immunity against the virus.

“However, most of the Covid symptoms are mild to moderate so there is no need to panic and go for drastic measures such as restrictions,” he added.

Small safety measures can help you pull through this phase like maintaining hand and cough hygiene, using masks, etc.

“Simple measures of using handkerchiefs or napkins while coughing and sneezing are not practised by the majority of people. We refuse to learn from our experience from the pandemic,” Dr Ravindra remarked.

He, however, said that there is no need of curbs or sanctions by the government and simple hygiene practices must be taught and followed by all in order to protect from all kinds of respiratory infections, like swine flu, flu, H3N2, corona, etc.

“We are seeing an increase in cases but these are mild and will likely have a rapid peak and decline. Mask, hand hygiene, avoiding close spaces with large gatherings are the basic practices one should follow,” Dr Neha said.


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