Just over a half of health workers across the country have received a Covid-19 shot since inoculations began last month, while a poll released on Friday suggested nearly half had concerns over China's Sinopharm, the only vaccine available in Pakistan so far.
The government had distributed 504,400 Sinopharm vaccine doses to the provincial by February 20, and 230,000 frontline health workers had received a shot by Friday, according to Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health (SAPM) Dr Faisal Sultan.
In January, Sultan said 400,000 health workers had been registered to get the vaccine.
A poll of 555 medical workers conducted by Gallup Pakistan and a national physicians' association between Feb 12 and Feb 20 said 59 per cent of health workers had not yet been offered a shot.
Sinopharm is one of four vaccines approved for use by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) for health workers and is currently the only vaccine available in the country.
Some 81pc of health workers said they were willing to be vaccinated, but 46pc said they would prefer Pfizer or AstraZeneca over the Sinopharm shot. Some 58pc said a vaccine developed so quickly could not be guaranteed to be safe.
“Chinese is a brand not synonymous with medical innovation,” Bilal Gilani, of Gallup Pakistan, told Reuters. “If Pfizer or AstraZeneca were offered, there would be a much higher uptake.” Pfizer is a US company while AstraZeneca is Anglo-Swedish.
Gilani said doctors did not trust government recommendations and instead looked to social media for information on the vaccine.
“No doctor is refusing to get the vaccine. Some of them are waiting for the Oxford one, AstraZeneca,” Salman Kazmi, General Secretary of the Young Doctors' Association Pakistan, told Reuters from Lahore.
“But there are some myths and delays, that is probably why the speed of vaccination is not high.”