The vaccination drive against the COVID-19 was rolled out earlier this year in Goa with high expectations. Giving a head start to the drive about 18,000 healthcare workers (HCWs) have registered on the online portal, CoWin while around 16,000 front line workers also had registered on the portal to receive the vaccine shots.
While the first few days saw the vaccination centers around the state, full of people waiting to get the jab, the recent reports reveal that participation of health and front line workers have dropped slowing down the vaccination drive.
Of the 18,000 healthcare workers registered on the portal, only 10,405 have been vaccinated. On the other hand out of 16,000 front-line workers, only about 3,668 frontline workers have been vaccinated since the second phase began a week ago.
Referring to this matter, a senior healthcare officer said that it is not surprising that very few frontline workers have reported for vaccination.
“When even doctors and health staff who have more knowledge about the vaccine are reluctant to get the jab, I’m not at all surprised that others are hesitant to come forward. Vaccination among HCWs itself is about 52% so far,” the healthcare officer said.
A Goa Medical College (GMC) doctor said though doctors are not advising medication, politicians and bureaucrats are asking HCWs to take the new vaccine which they themselves are not willing to accept.
“There are doubts about the vaccines. Some fear adverse effects. The propaganda of the anti-vaccine lobbies is holding people back. The stories of deaths reported in foreign countries regarding other Covid vaccines may have triggered these fears here as well,” he said.
The government, he said, is yet to publish information if any of the top bureaucrats have taken the vaccine. The publicity will induce confidence among frontline workers who may be having doubts about the vaccine, he added.
Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP) mayor Uday Madkaikar said most of CCP’s frontline workers have received the jab.
“Officials were slated to receive the jab. I was told to take the shot, but then someone advised me that since I had contracted the virus, the vaccine may not be useful,” said Madkaikar.
Madkaikar who was tested positive for the virus along with his wife said he was puzzled by people’s attitude towards the vaccine, even as 7-8 months ago, many were reluctant to even visit Altinho because of rising Covid cases in that locality.
“Many stopped visiting Altinho then. I had to intervene when people were refusing to go to the Covid care centre after testing positive. Those were the days of high tension and drama. But it looks like people are no more apprehensive of Covid as they are not following Covid appropriate behavior now, and on the contrary, they are fearing the vaccine,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state is expected to receive additional stock of vaccines this week for frontline workers. The health services have planned to conclude the first phase of vaccinating HCWs by March 12.
It is unclear whether it will be able to vaccinate all 18,000 registered HCWs by March 12, since at many centres response to the drive has dropped with a success rate of about 50% to 60%.