KARACHI: Despite some hiccups, including reluctance among healthcare providers, the Covid-19 vaccination drive is slowly picking up pace in the city, sources told Dawn on Thursday.
They also pointed to the lack of clarity in the registration process, lack of consultation with stakeholders as well as apprehensions about the government policy towards the private sector as factors affecting the drive.
According to the health department data, a total of 4,684 healthcare providers have been vaccinated in two days at 11 facilities set up in the province. Nine of them are in Karachi.
“Some doctors, who sent their national identity card (NIC) numbers to 1166 to get registered for the Covid-19 vaccination, were informed that the drive hasn’t yet started. There are also those who are confused whether they should go for the jab or not,” said Dr Qaiser Sajjad of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA).
The fact that only NIC numbers were required for doctors’ registration made the procedure confusing. “We couldn’t understand how healthcare staff would be prioritised on the basis of their NIC numbers.”
‘All doctors should be treated as front-line soldiers’
He also urged the government to look into the mortality data of healthcare providers. The data showed that the majority of health professionals who lost their life to coronavirus weren’t directly engaged in the management and treatment of Covid-19 patients.
“So far 184 doctors and 30 paramedical staff have died of Covid-19 across Pakistan. Most of these doctors were general practitioners, ear-nose-throat specialists, pathologists, eye specialists, gynaecologists, anaesthesiologists, dentists and paediatricians.
“All these doctors were infected while they performed their duties in the public and private sectors. So, we believe that all doctors should be treated as front-line soldiers.”
The government, he said, should address concerns about the Sinopharm Chinese vaccine and offer vaccination to healthcare staff in the private settings on priority basis.
To address misconceptions and hesitance among the staff, the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre administration encouraged the senior staff to get vaccinated first. “That’s true there are concerns about the vaccine. Some healthcare providers are reluctant which is why senior staff members under 60 were vaccinated first. No adverse reaction has been reported so far,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, the JPMC executive director.
A total of 238 healthcare providers, including the staff from the National Institute of Child Health and National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, were vaccinated on day 2, she added.
The staff at the vaccination facility took complete medical history and carried out physical examination before administering the jab. “Lactating mothers or people with some chronic health issues are declined. Recipients are asked to remain under observation for half an hour.”
Asked how staff members are responding to the vaccination drive, Dr Jamal Raza heading the National Institute of Child Health said some staff members were cautious and had adopted wait and see policy.
“Concerns emerged following reports that the vaccine is not recommended for people above 60 years. This is so because people of this group were not included in the vaccine trials. Generally, however, there is a good response and the staff is eager to get vaccinated.”
About the flaws in the registration process, a health department official explained that the National Immunisation Monitoring System was not functional a day earlier. “But it’s working now and the vaccination drive is gradually picking up pace.”
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2021