New Delhi: Nearly one-third of those invited to receive the immunization against Covid-19 in world’s largest vaccination drive reportedly skip the inoculation after reports of 580 beneficiaries experiencing adverse side-effects and two deaths were confirmed by the government.
The health ministry, however, dismissed the link between these deaths and vaccination, stating that the patients died of pre-existing medical ailments. Meanwhile, government has stepped up efforts to bolster trust in coronavirus vaccines after it registered a notable decline in number of beneficiaries due to unprecedented confusion and fear.
Among the dead was a 52-year-old man who as per health ministry reports died on Saturday in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh from “cardiopulmonary disease” and not the injection. Another case was reported from Karnataka state where a 43-year-old collapsed suffering a heart attack. Post-mortem is being conducted to get the actual cause of death.
The cases of adverse symptoms were reported in 580 people in the first three days of the drive out of total 381,305 vaccinated people, as per government records.
To note, India launched its most ambitious vaccination programme against corona virus last week, with an aim to inoculate 300 million of its population of 1.3 billion by July. Meanwhile, the country has the world’s second-largest number of coronavirus cases, with 10.5 million registered cases.
In the national capital New Delhi, only 53 percent of the people expected came for the shots, according to a health official.
“These are initial days and we understand people are waiting to see how the procedure pans out and how other vaccines fare,” said Suneela Garg, a member of the Covid-19 task force for Delhi.
“These numbers will go up as confidence is strengthened. And for that, we have to tackle misinformation.”
However, the turnout percentage was way too low in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which saw only 16 percent people coming to take shots against Covid-19.
Whereas, a community health centre in Rohtak district in the northern state of Haryana, received only 29 out of 100 expected people, a doctor there told media.
“People are very scared. We can’t force anyone to take the vaccine, it is voluntary,” said the doctor.
To win back public’s faith and clear their doubts regarding the Covid-19 drugs, Minister of Health Harsh Vardhan changed his Twitter profile header alleging “VACCINES WORK”.
“From the very beginning, we have warned people not to be worried about this misinformation that is being spread,” Vardhan told media.
India has so far approved two indigenous vaccines for use against Novel Coronavirus: Covaxin, developed by Bharath Biotech which has yet to complete clinical trials and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield, manufactured by an Indian company. The vaccination campaign will be held daily from 9am to 5pm, barring the days earmarked for routine immunisation programme.