Karnataka writes to PMO seeking nod to vaccinate 1,000 eminent personalities
With the COVID-19 vaccination coverage hovering around 50% in the State, the Health and Family Welfare Department has written to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking permission to vaccinate over 1,000 influential personalities from all walks of life.
These personalities, including celebrities, film stars, sportspersons, religious leaders, and heads of media organisations, are to be vaccine ambassadors who can help the State boost confidence among people to take the jab. However, they do not include politicians.
Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar said that politicians were not included in the list of eminent personalities as the Prime Minister had prioritised healthcare workers for vaccination in the first phase in recognition of their contribution in the battle against COVID-19.
Although Karnataka’s vaccination coverage is the highest in the country, the State has been able to vaccinate only about half the targeted healthcare workers so far. While this is attributed to vaccine hesitancy owing to fear factor, there is also a new sense of confidence among healthcare workers that they do not require vaccination as they might have already developed antibodies. “Also, like in other countries, if politicians had taken the shot first it would have made us more confident about the safety of the vaccine,” said a senior doctor from Victoria Hospital who is yet to take the jab.
However, Mr. Sudhakar said even if politicians were vaccinated first, it would not have made much of a difference. “The hesitancy is mainly because of misconceptions about vaccination and rumours spreading on social media,” he said.
“We are expecting a reply from the PMO in a day or two. We are hoping that if cine stars, religious leaders and other influential personalities take the vaccine, then people even in rural areas will be convinced,” the Minister said.
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said there were multiple reasons for the hesitancy. “Hesitancy and fear factor is a basic human tendency whenever a new vaccine is introduced. Besides, there is a sense of confidence among some who feel they do not require vaccination as they have already been exposed to the virus and have developed antibodies. But, vaccination is required even for those who have recovered,” he said.
Moreover, the introduction of Covaxin even as concerns over the lack of substantial efficacy data still exist has also created confusion among healthcare workers, he added.
As many as 3,06,187 healthcare workers of the targeted 5,92,260 have been vaccinated so far, taking the overall coverage to 52%.