Belying the expectations that Covid vaccine hesitancy will decrease with time, figures show that fewer people are turning up to take the shot in Chandigarh as the drive enters the fourth week.
The vaccine was rolled out across the nation on January 16, with healthcare workers being covered in the first phase. It has been extended to frontline workers from other departments, and Chandigarh operationalised more vaccination sites this week.
However, in the past three weeks, the percentage of people who got the jab against the number targeted has been on the decline from 52% (January 16-22) to 43.5% (January 23-30) and then to 42% (January 31-February 6).
Meanwhile, Chandigarh vaccination coverage stands at just 27.7% and it is among five states and UTs faring the poorest, according to figures released by the Centre on Saturday.
“Most people who were enthusiastic about taking the shot have come forward voluntarily. Now, others have to be counselled and motivated, which takes time,” said Dr Amandeep Kang, director, health department.
Kang said that based on inputs received from the Centre, all department heads have been told to personally interact with each health worker and form support groups of the vaccinated population to motivate and counsel the remaining ones.
“We are increasing counselling material through internal social groups in institutes and also through local TV and FM radio stations. We will also take up the issue in the state task force meeting in the coming days,” she said.
On Saturday, the target achievement rate saw a jump to 62%, as 253 of the 411 identified beneficiaries were inoculated across 10 sites in the city. PGIMER director Jagat Ram, who along with his wife Asha Kumari, was among those vaccinated encouraged people to go for it as it is “safe, with minimal or no side effects”.
“Mild reaction after vaccination is a good sign, because it means the immune system of the body is reacting to the vaccine and creating antibodies,” he said, adding that mild fever, body ache or joint pains could occur for a day or two, which will subside automatically, and people are free to contact the medical experts.