Talk first, shoot later
For the moment, let us leave aside the twin issues of efficacy and side effects of the vaccine and concentrate on the issue of Covid 19 vaccination guidelines. We understand, doctors are stretched across the states. But, one cannot take chances while undertaking such a massive vaccination.
IN THOUBAL district, a 37-year-old teacher died hours after receiving the first dose of Covishield vaccine on Monday. She is survived by her husband and a seven-month-old infant. Kiranbala got her shot at Sangai Yumpham PHC on Monday. Hours later, she started feeling sick and dizzy, and was admitted to Thoubal District Hospital where she breathed her last around 5.30 pm. Chief Minister N Biren Singh announced that a One Man Enquiry Committee will be formed to investigate the matter and ascertain the truth, after meeting the family. The immediate cause of death is yet to be ascertained as of now. Once the post-mortem is out, the causes leading to her death may be known. But, her death has already caused a stir among those who are reluctant or wary of taking the vaccine. Kiranbala’s husband said, she did not have any health issues in the past. This remark has further deepened the suspicions of nay-sayers, particularly among women.
This is not the first case of death after receiving the vaccine. In February this year, an Anganwadi worker in Bishnupur district died after getting the Covid 19 vaccine shot. Anganwadi workers and helpers are among the front-line warriors who received the priority shot. With her death, many Anganwadi workers stayed away from the vaccination drive out of fear. Sundari, the Anganwadi worker had complained of allergy and fever after being administered the vaccine on February 12 at Public Health Centre, Kumbi in Bishnupur district. Days later, she died at Moirang CHC. Following the incident, Chief Minister N Biren Singh had then ordered top health officials to issue strong instructions to concerned officials for ensuring strict compliance of COVID-19 vaccination guidelines.
In this connection, the state health society issued an office memorandum on Saturday directing all the CMOs, DFWO, DIOs, MSs of government and private hospitals to enquire about the history of allergies and medications and treatment for other diseases before vaccination.
For the moment, let us leave aside the twin issues of efficacy and side effects of the vaccine and concentrate on the issue of Covid 19 vaccination guidelines. Well, how does one get vaccinated? For the age group 18-44, one has to simply register in the COWIN website provide mobile number and Aadhar details, and you are in the system till the call comes.
Not even a basic questionnaire on past health issues was included in the registration process. Of course, there would have been problems in data processing if this was included. However, a short inquiry by a doctor about the past history of allergies and medications and treatment for other diseases before vaccination was indeed a necessity. In practice, nobody follows the directives or guidelines given by the health authorities.
Once you get the call, you report to the designated vaccination centre and wait your turn, a nurse gives you the shot and tells you to rest for 30 minutes before leaving the place. Nobody asks you whether you have any past allergies or health issues. Perhaps, this is the basic problem leading to deaths after taking the shot. Not everyone dies after taking the shot, but even one or two deaths is enough to scare away the rest.
We understand, doctors are stretched across the states. But, one cannot take chances while undertaking such a massive vaccination. At least, make it a point to depute a health worker equipped with basic knowledge at the gate of every vaccination centre, to make enquiries and confirm with the designated health officer as and when any issue arises.