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Booster dose hesitancy persists in Siliguri

According to health department officials, fear of adverse effects, confusion and misinformation could be the reasons that have led to the hesitancy.

SANKHA GHOSH | Kolkata |

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Although Covid caccine centres and vaccination camps in Siliguri are witnessing a steady response from people eligible for the booster dose, also called the precaution dose, of Covid-19 vaccine, a significant section of such eligible persons is still not willing to take the dose, it has come to light. According to health department officials, fear of adverse effects, confusion and misinformation could be the reasons that have led to the hesitancy. “It is true that all the eligible members of the same family are not taking the third dose. They are of the opinion that when people have to live with Covid-19, how long will they keep taking vaccines? Some do not find Covid to be a big deal anymore now,” a health worker, who shared her experiences while conducting a house-to-house survey in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation area, said. “We are not aware of any adverse impact of the vaccine on our body.

Who knows the emergence of variants will not evade the vaccines? I have not taken the third dose,” said a retired government employee, when reminded that medical experts have stressed that the precaution dose offers greater protection from severity of Covid-19. According to doctors, a section of their patients were unable to determine whether they should take the precaution dose. Meanwhile, around 11 Covid-19-positive patients have died at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH). Most of them had been suffering from preexisting diseases. But some deceased had not taken the booster dose and at least one was unvaccinated, sources have said. “People should take their booster doses as soon as they become eligible. We are repeatedly requesting that they take the shots because it provides better protection against severe illness from Covid-19,” said NBMCH superintendent Dr Sanjay Mallik.

The Centre had allowed the precaution dose from 10 January for high-risk people, which included health workers, frontline workers and those who are 60 years or older. The booster doses were subsequently allowed for all adults from 10 April. However, those below 60 had to pay for the dose and take it at private centres. A large number of people have become eligible for the Covid precaution, following the Centre’s announcement on bringing down the gap between the second dose of any Covid vaccine and the precaution dose on 6 July. The precaution dose window for all adults for 75 days rolled out in the country from 15 July, and that triggered an overwhelming response from the people, health department officials said. According to the commissioner of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, Sonam Wangdi Bhutia, around 3000 people had been taking the booster dose in 10 urban primary health centres and ward-wise camps on an average daily for the past few days.

Covid vaccine camp A voluntary organization, Siliguri Suryanagar Samaj Kalyan Sanstha, organised a Covid vaccination camp at the Siliguri Government Polytechnic in association with the SMC today. “A total of 650 people were administered the booster dose, while eight persons took the first dose and 22 the second doses of Covishield in the camp. The booster dose is due for many people as they do not show interest. We are appealing to them to take the shots without wasting time. They should take the shots because we believe the vaccines are the strongest tool in our fight against Covid-19,” said the general secretary of the organisation and a social activist, Ashish Brahma. The organisation will hold a similar camp to administer Covaxin on 7 August, it is learnt

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