Vaccination: ''Wait and watch'' approach, CoWin app snags blamed for 53 pc turnout in Delhi on Day 1

"There is a little bit of apprehension (about the vaccine). Also, people in India adopt a ''wait and watch'' approach in important matters, be it purchasing a new car or an appliance. People consider the experiences of others before taking a call," B L Sherwal, Medical Director of Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital, said.

 

New Delhi:

People adopting a "wait and watch" approach, lack of communication and glitches in CoWin app are the major reasons why only 53 per cent people got the COVID-19 shots on the first day in Delhi, experts said on Sunday.

In Delhi, 4,319 healthcare workers – 53.3 per cent of those registered – got the shots on Saturday, the first day of the world''s largest vaccination drive against the pandemic.

"There is a little bit of apprehension (about the vaccine). Also, people in India adopt a ''wait and watch'' approach in important matters, be it purchasing a new car or an appliance. People consider the experiences of others before taking a call," B L Sherwal, Medical Director of Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital, said.

In his hospital, 45 people got the jabs on Saturday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched on Saturday what his government has described as the “world’s largest vaccination programme”. It aims to vaccinate around 300 million people to curb the pandemic in India, which has reported the second highest number of coronavirus cases after the United States.

India was aiming to vaccinate more than 300,000 people on Saturday, but only 191,181 people were inoculated on the first day, official data shows.

Many health workers, who were due to receive a vaccine on Saturday, did not get the message via an app developed by the government called Co-Win, officials in at least four states said. Officials in at least one state said the issues had still not been resolved on Sunday.

Co-Win is supposed to alert healthcare workers, who are first in line to get shots. It also allows officials to monitor and manage the entire programme.

“We were planning to vaccinate 28,500 people on Saturday but could do only 18,328 because of glitches in the Co-Win app,” a senior official at the health department of the western state of Maharashtra told Reuters on condition on anonymity.

"There is a need for creating more awareness and building confidence among people. No major vaccine-related side effects were reported on Saturday, which is going to encourage others to take the shots," he said.

An AIIMS security guard had developed an allergic reaction after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. He was kept under observation of doctors at the hospital, an official had said on Saturday.

A total of 51 cases of minor reactions such as rashes, swelling at the injection site or fever were reported in the city on the first day, according to officials.

Sherwal said 53 per cent turnout should be considered "normal". "Since people are voluntarily taking the jabs, many times they skip it if there is some important work," he said.

"It took a lot of effort for 20 years to eradicate polio. There was resistance. Similar efforts will be needed in case of COVID-19 immunization campaign," he added.

Suresh Kumar, medical director of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, said technical glitches in CoWin app could be a reason why many people could not take the shots on the launch day.

CoWin is an online platform for monitoring COVID-19 vaccine delivery.

Only 32 people were given the jabs at LNJP hospital on Saturday.

"There were some glitches in the app at our hospital. We expect the number to increase during the course of the drive," Kumar said.

N K Ganguly, former director-general of Indian Council of Medical Research, said the numbers will increase gradually as people become "well-informed" about the vaccines.

"The government will have to strengthen the information dissemination process. The vaccine has reached the centres, now information needs to reach everyone," he said.

People are also facing difficulty operating the CoWin app. Technical glitches need to be rectified quickly to make the process smooth, Ganguly said.

Questions have also been raised on the efficacy of the vaccines, especially about Bharat Biotech''s Covaxin.

On Saturday, the Resident Doctors'' Association of the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital requested the hospital to vaccinate them with Serum Institute''s Covishield instead of Covaxin.

The association wrote a letter and said the doctors were a bit apprehensive about Covaxin due to the lack of a complete trail.

Those taking Covaxin are asked to sign a separate consent form, acknowledging that the jab is being administered without the phase-3 trial. 

Maharashtra, home to the financial hub of Mumbai, has been the Indian state hit hardest by COVID-19.

In the eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal, officials said they were forced to use printouts on Saturday due to issues with the app.

“We also went with our plan B and contacted people to be vaccinated directly offline,” Bijay Kumar Mohapatra, director, Health Services, Odisha, told Reuters in the state capital Bhubaneswar.

India is currently using Britain’s Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine, which is also being produced in India, and a government-backed vaccine developed by India’s Bharat Biotech.

However, approval of Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN has been criticised by health experts and opposition lawmakers due to a lack of efficacy data, which the manufacturer is still conducting.


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