Karnataka: Mere 45% of staff at health department headquarters has opted for vaccination | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: In an example of how slow and laborious the vaccination drive for Covid-19 has been in Karnataka, only 629 of the more than 1,400 staffers at Arogya Soudha, the head office of Karnataka’s health and family welfare department, have received the first dose.
With only about 45 % of staffers – the spearhead in the battle against the virus – coming forward to take the vaccine, hesitancy against the dose appears just as strong in the department as among healthcare workers across the state.
Arogya Soudha houses all wings of the health department. Many consultants, contractual staffers, group D employees and other staff work from here, besides IAS officers, many of whom spearhead various public health projects in the state.
As on January 30, the state had administered the first dose to only 51% of beneficiaries. Of 6,11,907 who registered, 3,13,639 have taken the vaccine since the programme was launched nationwide on January 16. Of the total 7,404 sessions planned across the state, 7,337 sites have administered the jab.
Pankaj Kumar Pandey, commissioner, health department admitted the response to the vaccine at Arogya Soudha is similar to the statewide trend. Covid vaccination has become like a horror movie which people want to watch, but are scared also,” Pandey said. “Hesitancy is seen in our own department too. Most of us seniors have taken the vaccine. We have been reiterating from Day I that it is completely safe, but still there is hesitancy.”
Pandey said beneficiaries develop fears over the vaccine after selectively watching some videos. “We are trying to address the issue,” he said.
Senior officials said a majority of staffers at Arogya Soudha do administrative work. “The fact is that those to whom the vaccine is being offered free are refusing to take it, while others who are not on the list want it,” a senior official said.
Experts working with the government say a lot of attention has been paid to logistics at vaccination sites, but not much effort has gone into addressing concerns of healthcare workers.
“Speaking to healthcare workers, clearing their doubts, encouraging discussions and answering all their questions is the need of the hour,” an expert said. “This needs to be done judiciously when the vaccine is rolled out to frontline workers, senior citizens and those suffering comorbidities in the next phase.”

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Sagar Biswas

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