As vaccine hopes rise, some doctors & nurses wary of jab

Many doctors and nurses TOI spoke to said they would prefer to wait a few months until more data on safety and efficacy was in the public domain.

MUMBAI: With Covid-19 vaccines expected to arrive within weeks to a month, many healthcare workers have grown wary of being the first ones to take the shot. Many doctors and nurses TOI spoke to said they would prefer to wait a few months until more data on safety and efficacy was in the public domain.

Infectious disease consultant Dr Om Srivastava, also a member of the state Covid taskforce, said he plans to wait till May. “Some vaccine technologies are brand new such as the messenger RNA technology (used in Moderna and Pfizer vaccines). I am certain vaccines will work, but I will decide only after looking at more results,” he said, adding he would rely on masking and physical distancing that have helped so far. Physician Dr Gautam Bhansali, too, said he would wait a few months before deciding when to get vaccinated and on the type of vaccine. Head of one of BMC’s jumbo facilities said, “If given a choice, I would wait it out.” A list of 1.2lakh healthcare workers from Mumbai has been drawn up for the first phase of vaccination, which is going to be voluntary, civic officials said.

For KEM Hospital dean Dr Hemant Deshmukh, minimal knowledge of Covid pathogenesis is more of a concer n. “I am in no hurry to take the vaccine. We know so little about the virus and its trajectory in the coming months. We don’t know how many strains are there, or how far vaccines can protect,” he said.

A 72-year-old senior general surgeon said, “The pace at which vaccine-makers have sought emergency use authorisations without putting adequate safety data in public domain has created doubts,” he said. Vaccinemakers Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute of India (SII) and Pfizer have applied for emergency approvals.

However, Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the state task force, said much of the fear is because of the unavailability of complete data on safety and efficacy. “The hesitancy will go once doctors see authentic data from Indian trials in credible journals,” he said, adding Oxford AstraZeneca, Bharat Biotech and Zydus vaccines are the likely ones to arrive first.

Pulmonologist Dr Jalil Parkar said vaccines go through several stages of rigorous study and doctors must consider taking it. A senior doctor said the incident of a ‘Covishield’ trial participant sending legal notice to SII over adverse effects has certainly triggered uncertainty.

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