Vaccine diktat

The fiat issued by a district health official in Jharkhand asking government staffers to get vaccinated or be prepared for salary interruption was rather unusual. The order — later withdrawn after a backlash — was also contrary to the directive of the state Health Minister that cautioned about the proper exercise of the vaccine and warned against making it experimental. While the inoculation drive for the coronavirus has finally got off the ground, it is important to do it in a manner that inspires confidence by basing it on demand and not target. What made the order worse was the clause that salary would be restored only after displaying proof of the vaccine being administered. It was clearly a case of administrative overreach by the official.

The government plans to get healthcare and frontline workers inoculated in the first phase. Arrangements have been made to watch out for harmful reactions as adverse effects have been reported in some cases. It has been clarified that vaccination is voluntary but advisable, with senior health officials like the AIIMS Director in Delhi leading from the front by taking the shot along with other health workers.

The vaccination drive is supposed to be citizen-centric, available to everyone, anywhere and anytime. The eligibility conditions have been laid down by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to help in prioritising the recipients. Technical glitches and other hassles may account for the initial hesitation and confusion but they need to be sorted out. The administering of the vaccine is restricted at the moment and there are apprehensions of problems to be encountered when the drive enters its third phase to cover those above the age of 50. A vaccine for Covid marks the culmination of efforts to contain the virus. In the early stages of the pandemic, hygiene and social distancing were advocated to contain the surge. The relevance of precautionary measures remains even as the efficacy of the vaccine unfolds gradually by having a better understanding of the population receiving the jab.

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