Coronavirus | In Tamil Nadu, 2,783 healthcare workers get immunised

The State has the capacity to vaccinate 16,600 people a day but only 2,783 got the shot on January 16 — the most in Chennai (348) and the least in Perambalur (2).

In Tamil Nadu, 16.8% of healthcare providers took the COVID-19 vaccine on the first day of immunisation on January 16.

The State has the capacity to vaccinate 16,600 people a day but only 2,783 got the shot on January 16 — the most in Chennai (348) and the least in Perambalur (2).

Also read | Adequate stocks of vaccine for second dose on day 28 available, T.N. Health Secretary says

Vaccination was launched at 166 centres — the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield at 160 centres and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin at six.

Each centre has the capacity to vaccinate 100 persons a day. A total of 2,684 of the planned 16,000 persons took Covishield, while 99 of the 600 persons opted for Covaxin.

In fact, two of the six centres that rolled out Covaxin — the Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital and the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College Hospital, Tiruchi — had no takers. No adverse event after immunisation was reported.

Also read | Tamil Nadu CM inaugurates COVID-19 vaccination drive in Madurai

However, Health Department officials said this was not a target-approach, but the exercise was based on the willingness of healthcare providers. Several doctors, expressing apprehensions about the vaccines, chose to wait and watch before making a decision. Health officials and hospital authorities hoped for an improvement in the response from doctors in the coming days.

Chennai and Salem had the most number of vaccination sites, with 12 each. In Chennai, 310 of the 1,200 healthcare providers/workers took Covishield. Salem followed with 288 of the 1,200 persons.

At Tiruppur, the vaccine was administered to 195 persons, while in Madurai, where the programme was launched by the Chief Minister, 146 of the total 500 persons took the vaccine. There were 107 takers in Tiruvallur and 103 each in Cuddalore and Tiruvarur. Some of the districts that ended with the lowest figures were Perambalur-2/100, Nagapattinam-10/400, Ariyalur-14/300, Ranipet-15/300, Kallakurichi-21/200 and Pudukottai-23/400.

Of the 99 persons who opted for Covaxin, 40 received it at the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital, 38 at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai, 20 at the Chengalpattu Medical College Hospital and one at the Pudukottai Medical College Hospital.

The vaccination took off across the State even as many doctors chose to wait and watch before making a decision. “Most of the doctors at my hospital are not willing to get vaccinated. The hesitancy is mainly due to the fear about safety and the fact that these vaccines came about at such a short span of time,” a hospital authority said.

A senior government doctor in Chennai said authorities struggled to get willingness from doctors and staff members until a day before the vaccination. “Many staff moved away from the place when we asked whether they were willing to take the vaccine, while some others switched off their phones. We were struggling to get even 25 persons. But the response was good on the day of vaccination, and some want to come on Monday,” he said.

A doctor at the Government Medical College Hospital, Omandurar Government Estate, said he might take the vaccine after a week. “Everyone prefers to wait and watch. Not many are enthusiastic about volunteering,” he said. Another government doctor of the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital questioned how they could take the vaccines when the results of the phase-3 trials were yet to be published. “Scientifically, this is a wrong move. I still do not know why the government is launching the vaccines in haste,” he said.

Many doctors objected to taking Covaxin. At the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, one of the six centres that offered Covaxin, 38 doctors took the vaccine. Among them were the Dean, two directors, four professors and 20 staff members of two Indian Council of Medical Research institutes — the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis and the National Institute of Epidemiology.

The screening and consent form for Covaxin said, “In phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials, Covaxin has demonstrated the ability to produce antibodies against COVID-19. However, the clinical efficacy of Covaxin is yet to be established and it is still being studied in phase 3 clinical trial. Hence, it is important to appreciate that receiving the vaccine does not mean that other precautions related to COVID-19 need not be followed.”

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