TBC Explainer: What is vaccine hesitancy and how does it affect you?
As India will soon begin vaccination for population above 18 years. We look at the levels of vaccine hesitation in the country
While the covid-19 crisis is on the rise in the country, there is an outpour of support from around the globe. As people fight for oxygen beds, Remdesivir and plasma; global commercial superpowers and countries are all extending a hand of support to our country. The situation in India is once again grim and every state in the country is now going into a new series of lockdowns.
While the country struggles with enough vaccines to vaccinate the population, and supplies to deal with the Covid-19 crisis the vaccine hesitancy is another factor that the country is actively failing to consider. The country also aims to begin vaccination for the population above 18 years of age. But the prevalence of vaccine hesitancy in the country and the rising number of active cases can become a problem for India to deal with the crisis. But to understand this, let us first understand the meaning of vaccine hesitancy.
What is vaccine hesitancy?
The World Health Organisation explains vaccine hesitancy as "a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccine services." It is also "complex and context-specific varying across time, place and vaccines." And "is influenced by factors such as complacency, convenience and confidence."
Simply put, as the name suggests, vaccine hesitancy is the concept of delaying or not accepting a vaccine because of apprehension of its efficacy.
What the studies say?
An online study was conducted across the country with undergraduate medical students to understand the prevalence of vaccine hesitancy. For the purpose of the study, an online questionnaire was filled by 1068 medical students. The students were asked to choose between the two available vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin. According to the finding of the study, Vaccine hesitancy was found among 10.6 per cent of these undergraduate medical students. The study was carried out across 22 states and all the union territories of India.
The students who were a part of the study expressed concerns regarding vaccine safety and efficacy. Hurried testing and lack of trust in the government were also cited as reasons for vaccine efficacy.
But off lately, there has been a decrease in vaccine hesitancy in the country. The reason behind this decrease is considered to be the deteriorating state of the country as we continue to fight our grim battle against Covid-19.
To date, more than 14,52,71,186 have been vaccinated and the number is expected to rise with the new phase of vaccination starting May 1, 2021. According to the Bloomberg tracker, India has administered 145M doses enough for 5.3 per cent population coverage. But if vaccination hesitancy was to be eliminated as a factor, India will surely have more population coverage in the coming phase.
Another study by LocalCircles suggests that as the Covid-19 situation the country becomes grimmer, the number of people willing to take a vaccine has gone up by 77 per cent. This percentage was previously only at 38 per cent. But as the number of active cases started to accelerate, the acceptance of the vaccine seems to be higher in the country. For the purpose of the survey, 11,500 people were considered from 299 districts. Nearly half of the respondents were from tier 1 cities and about 27 per cent were from tier two cities. 25 per cent were from tier 3 cities.
According to data, about 52 per cent of people who have taken the vaccine did not have any kind of symptoms. According to the report, people have also experienced mild symptoms after the vaccine. People have also experienced symptoms such as moderate side effects like fever, fatigue, headache, muscle
How does vaccine hesitancy affect you?
Avoiding taking the vaccine or delaying the process of taking the vaccine can affect your immunity against the virus. Through the first jab is not proven to boost immunity, it is better to be safe than sorry. Additionally, across the globe, there are very few cases of people contracting the virus after receiving both vaccines. It is also important to consider that pandemics often take a lot of time to subside consider leprosy, polio, or Spanish flu — these pandemics took years to subside and were eliminated with combined efforts of vaccine and containing the spread of the disease. Hence, for this pandemic to subside the same will be required. This is only possible if we make combined efforts to take the vaccine.
Still have doubts?
TEDxPune is organising a webinar on ‘Overcoming Covid-19 Vaccine Hesitancy’ on Friday i.e. April 30, 2021. The conversation will be led by Dr Mrudula Phadke, Senior Advisor to the Government of Maharashtra and UNICEF on Child Health and Dr Khanindra Kumar Bhuyan, Health Specialist at UNICEF Maharashtra. The event is open for all since a sensitive subject like this must ensure that information is directly sourced from the most experienced. Here is the registration link - https://bit.ly/3dseCoU.