RECIPIENTS OF national and state awards working at the Government Medical College Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh, have been given the option of getting vaccinated on the day of the Covid-19 vaccine launch in the city. A team of doctors here will respond to any queries and anxiety related to the vaccine.
The plan is in place and the stage is set at GMCH-32 for January 16, when the first phase of vaccination begins, with healthcare workers being the first to receive the vaccine. “We are confidently nervous and our work of weeks will be put in action on January 16. Our dry runs were very successful and we are both happy and excited about the process of vaccination,” said Professor Deepak Chawla from the department of neonatology, one of the key people taking care of logistics of the Covid-19 vaccination programme here.
GMCH-32 has established two sites for Covid-19 vaccination and has the capacity to vaccinate 200 beneficiaries each day. An observation area has been set up at each of the two sites and each beneficiary will be observed for 30 minutes immediately after vaccination for any side-effects. According to Prof. Chawla, although any serious side-effects are expected to be very rare, arrangements have been made to detect and manage any symptoms arising within the observation period. Many senior doctors and nurses have come forward to receive the vaccine on the day of launch, with a senior doctor stating, “I am confident about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine and want to receive the vaccine on the first day itself.”
“We have approximately 4,000 health workers here, and awardees of different levels. The number must be at least 10, and we have been given appointments to 200 beneficiaries. From doctors to nurses, safai karamcharis to drivers, we want everyone to come forward and give others confidence,” added Prof. Chawla.
The GMCH has also been designated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as the state-level technical collaborating center for adverse events following immunisation. Dr Jasbinder Kaur, the director principal, said, “A committee of senior level doctors headed by Prof. Sanjay D’Cruz has been constituted to coordinate response to any reported adverse events. The committee will evaluate whether any health-related events after immunisation are related to the vaccine. As many beneficiaries will receive the vaccine, naturally occurring health events will surface. Most of these events will not be related to the vaccine and are likely to be symptoms of commonly occurring morbidities only.”
The Government of India has also set up toll-free helpline number ‘1075’ for the beneficiaries to respond to any queries and allay anxiety. “We have a dedicated team to look into any serious health issues that a person may experience. The follow-up is important o understand why the issue has happened, though it may not be related to the vaccine. Also, a team of trained junior doctors will be at the site to address any queries of people before they are inoculated, regarding where the shot will be given, pain, etc related to it, and any minor anxiety that they may be experiencing. Vaccination is not new for us, so we have all systems in place, though it is the first time that the entire process will be paperless and computerized. One in ten people may experience mild fever, headache, pain at the injection site, all signs that the body is responding to the vaccine and all these symptoms are normal and the vaccine is absolutely safe,” said Prof. Chawla.