'If we don't take vaccine, who will?' Healthcare workers make their point

Jabalpur: A medic administers the first dose of Covishield vaccine to a frontline worker, after the launch of Covid-19 vaccination drive at Victoria Hospital in Jabalpur, Jan. 16, 2021. (PTI Photo)
Suman Kumari, a nursing officer at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi, returned home early from an out-of-state visit when she learnt vaccination was starting. Having been in close contact with Covid-19 patients for the past year, she was eagerly awaiting a text message from the government telling her she’s eligible for the jab. It thus came as a pleasant surprise when she finally did receive the text.

The very next day, however, she saw the consent form all volunteers needed to sign and started feeling apprehensive. Having witnessed so much controversy around the jab, she was unsure how to proceed. She wasn’t one of the firsts to stand in line to take the shot, as she was worried about its after-effects.

However, with barely an hour left before the vaccination process ended, she mustered up the courage and got inoculated. “Ab toh main aa gayi hoon, ab toh vaccine leni hi thi (Now that I’m here, I knew I needed to take the vaccine),” she said. “How else will I set an example for others?” she added.

January 16 saw many health care workers such as Kumari lining up to be the first to take vaccines despite the controversy surrounding them. Their mission: To set an example.

Lines and lines of health care workers whom Business Standard interviewed on Friday had the same message to give: “If I, a health care worker, don’t take the vaccine, how will I be able to tell others to take it?”.

Dr Nitin Kumar, who works at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, had been away from his family for over a month as he was posted in a Covid ward. “I had been staying at a hotel all this while. I’m happy that I took the vaccine,” he says.

“I’m not worried about vaccine efficacy. I knew I needed to take it, come what may. If we don’t take it, who will?” he says.

Sulochna Kataria, deputy nursing superintendent at G B Pant hospital, New Delhi, came out of the vaccine administration room with a relieved smile and a thumbs up. When asked by a swarm of reporters about how she’s feeling, Kataria said: “I’m feeling energetic and great. This vaccine is for our own good. Daro mat. Darr ke aage jeet hai. (Don’t be scared. There is victory after fear).”

Dr Rajesh Kumar Yadav, who was receiving the vaccine at G B Pant hospital, says the rumors regarding problems with any of the vaccines are fake. He adds: “I’m proud I’m taking the desh ka vaccine (nation’s vaccine).”  

Maulana Azad Medical College’s Dr. Puneet Chahar turned up to the vaccination centre early morning in order to get inoculated. “It’s my duty. My wife, also a doctor, would have been the first to come as well, but she’s pregnant and therefore doesn’t qualify,” he says.

Dr Kunal Aneja, also belonging to a family of doctors, says he is confident of the vaccine. “All these vaccines have gone through proper review by relevant authorities. There is no need to fear. It was a proud moment for me when I took the jab today,” he says.

It’s not just doctors and nurses who are leading the way.

Manoj Kumar, a security guard posted at Kalawati Charan Children’s Hospital, New Delhi, says: “I trust the government. They’ve invested so much into these vaccines. Maybe someone or the other will get a rare reaction once in a while, but that should not deter you from taking the jab. I’m taking the jab to show my fellow colleagues that it’s safe,” he says.   

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