By Priyanka Sharma
New Delhi [India], January 19 (ANI): Urging health workers to fulfil their "societal" responsibility" by getting vaccinated against COVID-19, senior government officials on Tuesday said there should be no cause of vaccine hesitancy and the vaccines are very safe.
NITI Aayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul said at a press briefing that issue related to adverse events pertaining to vaccines "is unfounded, negligible and insignificant".
"The data shows that we are in a comfortable situation. I would like to assure that from the data that these two vaccines (Covidshield and Coxavin) are safe, they do not excite undue reactogenicity and are being accepted increasingly," he said.
"As per the data available so far, only 0.18 per cent is the Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) and 0.002 is the percentage of the people who were hospitalized following immunization. There is no doubt on both the platforms of these two vaccines are produced are highly immunogenic and also very safe," he added.
The Niti Aayog member said healthcare workers should come forward to take the vaccine.
"If you (healthcare workers) are given an opportunity to be vaccinated as per the priority list, which was developed in consultation with the state government and was shared with the highest level with the state leadership, then those of us who are fortunate to be listed for the vaccination, we should not refuse COVID vaccine," he said.
He said those who take vaccine get protection against COVID-19.
"You can perform your functions without fear of contracting COVID. And you will protect your family and I wonder why we don't want to do it." Paul said.
He said a person who should have taken the vaccine does not take it, he or she can be a medium for the spread of the virus and part of the chain of transmission.
"I think you're not fulfilling societal responsibility if a vaccine assigned to you is not taken. Please understand the whole world is clamouring for the vaccine," Dr Paul said.
He said two vaccines are being easily made available and if healthcare workers are declining it, it is very unfortunate.
"I would request on behalf of the government please accept the vaccine because we don't know what shape this pandemic is going to take in the future," he said.
Dr Paul, who had taken the COVID-19 vaccine, said he felt no side-effects.
He said similar kind of misinformation and fear were seen during past vaccination drive done for children.
"If there is any usual signal, it will be responded too because our AEFI system is very robust which is in place for the last two decades. This vaccine hesitancy among healthcare workers should be ended," he said.
Noting that the COVID-19 trajectory is declining in India, Dr Paul said many countries reported the same decline in the cases but their graph is rising.
He said healthcare workers should become a role model for others.
"Many countries, who cannot afford to manufacture, are asking for vaccines. It is a big matter. Within a few weeks, a wall of vaccine-induced herd immunity would build up. We are fortunate enough to have vaccines because vaccination will take is us toward the elimination of this pandemic," Dr Paul said.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said there is vaccine hesitancy is in all countries and it has got nothing to do with COVID-19.
"Probably the degree would be slightly more in COVID-19 across countries because the disease is new. We have seen vaccine hesitancy in the polio vaccine, in measles, mumps and rubella. The only way of addressing this situation is by trying to address all doubts and confusions," he said.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava said the vaccine prevents COVID-19.
"Vaccines prevent COVID-19 deaths. So it is time to take the vaccines to end the pandemic." (ANI)