Medical officers in Chittoor district are a puzzled lot after realising that not many are coming forward to take indigenous COVID-19 vaccines under the impression that they are of lesser efficacy compared to their foreign counterparts.
Many senior citizens and those with comorbid conditions seem to prefer to wait for a couple of months so that they could take ‘imported vaccines’ for a foolproof protection against COVID-19. It is observed that this erroneous belief is prevalent not only among the general public, but also among the educated, and even the medical and paramedical fraternity.
Pulmonologist P. Amarnatha Reddy from the government hospital at Puttur, who was a part of the team that detected and treated the first COVID-19 case in Andhra Pradesh at Guntur, clarifies that technically rolling out of imported vaccines in India is not possible. “The cold chain pertaining to these vaccines is set at temperatures in minus degrees. Maintaining the same parameters is not possible during transport here, as summer season has already commenced and temperatures are going to remain high. This also involves heavy expenditure. Our indigenous vaccines require cold chain temperatures between 2 and 80C. Hence, the chances of getting imported vaccines are very remote as of now,” he explains.
According to AP Government Doctors’ Association (APGDA) secretary P. Ravi Raju, “Going by the latest information, not even a single casualty occurred in the country due to the COVID-19 vaccine. We have official information that the indigenous vaccines are effective up to 81%. As per global standards, any COVID-19 vaccine with above 50% efficacy is enough to maintain requisite immunity levels and to prevent casualties 100%. Our teams are extensively campaigning to educate the public on how to get registered online for getting the jabs.”
District Medical and Health Officer M. Penchalaiah says that field staff were doing their best to dispel the wrong notions about indigenous vaccines at the ground level. “The response from the public is very slow. Our immediate target for the third phase is to cover a population of five lakh,” he says.