Capital’s frontline health workers adopt ‘wait-and-see’ approach to vaccine

Published February 8, 2021
A health worker receives a dose of the Chinese-made Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, at the National Command and Operation Centre in Islamabad. — AFP/File
A health worker receives a dose of the Chinese-made Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine, at the National Command and Operation Centre in Islamabad. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: As majority of the frontline healthcare workers in the federal capital have adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach to get themselves vaccinated against Covid-19, only 34 so far received the vaccine since campaign was launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Feb 2.

However, District Health Officer Dr Zaeem Zia expressed the hope that a large number of healthcare workers will be vaccinated on Monday (today) as around 300 appointments were called for the day.

A senior official of the Ministry of National Health Services, requesting not to be named, said the vaccination drive had not received a very positive response.

“However, we were already expecting that the vaccination will be a slow starter as it is a new thing/cure and majority of the healthcare workers would be hesitant. The campaign was inaugurated on Feb 2 and the very next day it was launched across the country,” he added.

Only 34 health professionals inoculated; weekly positivity rate in Islamabad lowest in last 10 weeks

“In Islamabad so far only 34 healthcare workers have been inoculated. I repeat they are not refusing to be vaccinated but seem reluctant,” he explained.

The official said the healthcare workers were checking with those who had been vaccinated, which showed that they were mentally preparing themselves for the vaccination.

“I have come to know that 300 healthcare workers were contacted for appointment for Monday (today) and only 50pc of them showed their willingness and availability. I fear that a number of them may skip,” he said.

As many as 14 vaccination cantres have been established in the federal capital but only five are functional due to fewer number of healthcare workers showing up for vaccination.

“Unfortunately, it is the general behaviour of the citizens that they demand facilities and services but do not bother to avail them. I daily pass from I.J. Principal Road and observe that majority of pedestrians cross the road directly rather than using the pedestrian bridge. I still remember that over a decade ago people had protested and blocked the same road after the death of a student in an accident. They were demanding a pedestrian bridge there. But when the bridge was installed, it has hardly been used,” he said.

“Similarly, we were facing severe criticism that the government had delayed the procurement of the vaccine but now even the healthcare workers are hesitating to get themselves vaccinated,” he said.

A doctor of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) said it was a fact that the healthcare workers were hesitating to get vaccinated.

“It is a new vaccine, which has been registered in a hurry, and no one is aware of its results, especially its side-effects. That is why people have been hesitant across the globe. However, I believe that it is a matter of days when people will start offering themselves for vaccination,” the doctor said.

When contacted, Dr Zia said over 300 appointments were called for the vaccination on Monday (today), expressing the hope that a large number of healthcare workers would be vaccinated.

“I am sure a large number of healthcare personnel will be vaccinated by the end of the week,” he said.

Lowest weekly positivity ratio

While 115 Covid-19 cases were reported in the federal capital on Sunday, the weekly positivity ratio remained the lowest in 10 weeks.

According to a graph available with Dawn, the weekly positivity ratio from Nov 29 to Dec 5 was 6.15pc, but it dropped to 5.39pc the following week. From Dec 28 to Jan 3, the positivity ratio was 3.79pc and in the last week of January it was 1.61pc. The positivity from Feb 1 to Feb 7 remained 1.57pc.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2021

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