Srinagar: With healthcare workers to be the first to get COVID-19 vaccine in the initial phase of inoculation beginning on January 16, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday said many doctors, nurses and paramedical staff are hesitant to take the vaccine which is worrisome.
“Vaccine hesitancy among medical personnel is a major concern,” DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan said.
He said vaccine hesitancy – which encompasses delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccine – will pose a serious problem. “It is a troubling development, especially since healthcare workers are at higher risk of contracting the virus and their sickness would mean disruption of healthcare delivery system,” he said.
The DAK President said medical staff would imperil patients by snubbing COVID-19 shots. “Unvaccinated staff have the potential to transmit the disease to patients who are vulnerable to COVID-19 related complications and death,” he added.
“The vaccine-hesitant attitude among medical professionals might percolate down to the general population,” Dr Hassan said, adding the idea of vaccinating healthcare providers first is to help pave way for broader vaccine acceptance.
He said it is the medical professionals who should be educating public about the importance of vaccine. They have to play an important role in fostering vaccine acceptance among vaccine-hesitant. “But if they are themselves reluctant for the vaccine, they are unlikely to address the fears of vaccine-hesitant people,” Dr Hassan said
“If vaccine hesitancy is not addressed, it could mean we could be seeing outbreak for years. We can’t just write off somebody’s decision and say well that is their personal decision. Because it is not their personal decision, it is about the whole community,” he said.
The DAK president said that vaccine hesitancy in healthcare workers will have implications on vaccine coverage among the population. “We will need enough people to get vaccinated against Covid in order to stop the pandemic. The sooner we can get more people vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to some semblance of normalcy,” he said.
“Healthcare workers should be conscious of their responsibility and act as role models for the society. They should come forward to take the jab because it is the only way to end the pandemic,” he added.
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