Doctors warn that it could affect attempts to curb not only COVID but other infectious diseases also
The COVID-19 vaccine is the best option to fight the virus, say top doctors across India, stating that fever/body ache are the most common reaction to any vaccine.
“Fever and body ache reaction is a healthy sign that the body is reacting and producing enough antibodies,” said Ramakanta Panda, leading cardiovascular thoracic surgeon and Managing Director of the Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai.
He added that citizens of India should trust the process. “The vaccines available in India are safe and people need not worry about it. Even the flu vaccine is only 60% effective,” said Dr. Panda, one of the healthcare workers who has taken the vaccine.
He noted that for the entire month, especially during the first week after getting vaccinated, people have to continue taking precautions; otherwise they will get infection and their body will be compromised. Despite all this, 5% of people still won’t get protection and this means that if you vaccinate a million people, 50,000 will not get protection. That’s a fair number, he said.
“There have been occasional reports of severe complications which could also be anecdotal cases, may not be related to the vaccine,” Dr. Panda said.
Stating that the growing rate of refusal of COVID vaccine by healthcare workers across the globe has spread a major concern among the general public, Arunesh Kumar, senior consultant and head of Respiratory Medicine/Pulmonoloy, Paras Hospitals Gurugram said this simply means that refusal or hesitancy could lead to the continuation of outbreaks for years, not just 2021, maybe 2022, maybe 2023 after all these sacrifices.
“The vaccines are safe. Some of the side effects like fever, joint pain are common with any vaccine and in fact represents the immune response to vaccines. In our hospital, we have held many one-on-one conversations with our healthcare team; we are also conducting sessions with the person who took the vaccine recently and the person is sharing his own personal experiences of being the beneficiary of the vaccine,” Dr. Kumar said.
Health care professionals admit that vaccine hesitancy is a serious roadblock to immunization efforts not only for COVID but for many other infectious diseases as well.
Piyush Goel, senior consultant, Columbia Asia Hospital at Gurugram, said, “Health care and frontline workers have been advised not to pay heed to the unverified news in social media and refer to reliable sources, such as government communiques and media, to gather further information.”
“As hospital administrators and public health professionals, it’s our duty to help the community to overcome vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine hesitancy is a known phenomenon that has been around for many decades. And, specially a new vaccine coming in for unknown and new viruses, it’s valid that many health professionals will have vaccine hesitancy because they know the side-effects and the complications caused by any medicines more than the general community,” he said.
“We are sharing data, information on the vaccine development, how it has performed in various stages and also the data coming out of trials to ensure confidence in the vaccine,” said Shuchin Bajaj, director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals.