My WhatsApp chat box has been buzzing with positivity and enthusiasm ever since the rollout of the Covid19 vaccine in the country for senior citizens and people with co-morbidities above the age of 45. Every now and then, a message pops up in my inbox by one or the other member making proud proclamation of having taken the first dose of the vaccine.Undeniably, the response of the seniors, especially in my circle of friends, acquaintances, colleagues, neighbours to the vaccine, is reassuring.
Here I share an interesting chat in one of my WhatsApp groups. A friend posted her photograph peeping from a frame specifying the private clinic where she got herself inoculated. In response to her post, a well-meaning member in the group commented she could have taken the jab free of cost at a government vaccination centre without any hassle. Pat came the text message, “Let this be my contribution to the government’s funds in its fight against Corona…”
Those who have taken the vaccine at government facility are more than satisfied with the service; others, too, have a reason to be happy for not burdening the government exchequer and machinery. Ultimately, what is most remarkable is a sense of pride in taking the jab- for ensuring some sort of protection against the virus for oneself and also for fulfilling social responsibility in helping to obstruct the virus transmission.
It is a fact that for the past few days all our conversations and chats with relatives, friends and neighbors have centred on Lagwa liya kya? If one has already taken the jab, the normal question that follows is Kuchch hua kya? My husband did have a mild fever after the vaccination but my experience has rather been interesting. Post vaccination, I started complaining of a little pain in my right upper arm till the time my husband pointed out that it was my left arm that had been pricked. Ha.. Ha.. .The adverse (psychological) effect!
As opposed to the recent enthusiasm, the first vaccination drive started on 16 January for healthcare workers and frontline was marked by greater vaccine hesitancy and skepticism. Though vaccine hesitancy is not a new phenomenon, proliferation of anti-vaccine information through social media is much faster because of its ‘long tail effect.’
There have been instances galore in the past when communities have boycotted immunization due to rumours. But despite challenges, India has been able to achieve victory over Small pox and Polio with extensive immunization. Undoubtedly, vaccine is an essential weapon in war against Covid 19 and vaccination is potentially the beginning of the end of gloom and doom of the pandemic. Thankfully; we, in India are blessed with incredible vaccine infrastructure with phenomenal capacity to produce vaccine on a mass scale. But it is not the vaccine, but vaccination will disrupt the spread of the virus.
Let us face it. It is an unprecedented health challenge. Though there are questions regarding the efficacy of vaccine including how long the immunity given by the vaccine will last but refusal to take vaccine will surely come in the way of reaching threshold of herd immunity to end the pandemic.
(Published in The Tribune as MIDDLE on April 1, 2021)