Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 22
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday asked health-care facilities to compete with one another and reach 100 per cent Covid vaccination targets so that the next phase of inoculation for those above 50 could begin soon.
Engaging health-care workers who have taken Covid shots in Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency, the Prime Minister said, “We may say anything we want about the vaccines but the common man feels reassured about safety aspects only when medical field workers vouch for them.”
The PM expressed a pleasant surprise when Shringhla Chauhan, a community health centre leader in Sewapuri, told him that she took the Covid shot on January 16 and returned to work soon after to vaccinate 87 others.
“So you did so much work the same day as you took your shot?” asked the PM as he addressed vaccine hesitancy in India by engaging inoculated health workers about their experiences after the shot.
The PM said vaccines are absolutely safe and were launched after months of hard work by “scientists who are modern-day saints”.
Varanasi has a target of covering 20,000 health workers.
Every beneficiary who spoke to the PM stressed Covid vaccine safety saying they returned to normal functioning the day they took the shots.
Matron of Varanasi district hospital Pushpa Devi, one of the first beneficiaries, hailed the PM for choosing health workers for inoculation in Phase 1.
“Thank you for providing us with a Covid vaccine in the first phase. I have been vaccinated and feel blessed and fortunate. I feel safe and am confident of safety of my family and society,” Pushpa Devi said, adding that she had no side-effects and that Covid shot was like any other jab.
When the PM asked Pushpa Devi to “say something to inspire those who have concerns about the shots”, she said, “Covid vaccine is significant and has been made in record nine months. We are fortunate it is available in India. People must not feel scared of its side-effects. The shot will protect them. My message is: kill the fear and take the shot.”
The PM told the beneficiaries that he resisted pressures of an early vaccine launch and the country rolled out the vaccines only after safety approval from scientists.
“I was under pressure to launch the vaccine. But I was sure we would follow our scientists. It is not the job of politicians. When we considered who should be targeted first, we thought of health workers because once they are protected society will also be protected,” the PM said, adding that some people were upset at delayed shots for them.
Among those who spoke to the PM about safe experience of taking Covid shots was Rani Kunwar, an ANM and a vaccinator; V Shukla, head of a local dispensary; and Ramesh Chandra Rai, a lab technician.
To Rani Kunwar, who administers 100 Covid vaccine shots a day, the PM said, “Get ready to break record with Covid vaccine administration.”
Shukla told the PM that he had no side-effects and was counselling people to accept the shots without fear.
The PM said government campaigns like Swachh Bharat and others for clean air and water had helped boost the immunity of even the poorest Indians and helped the national Covid fatality rate to remain low.
“We may say what we want about the vaccine but when medical people say others feel inspired. People must be asking you what happened,” the PM told Shukla, who said everyone at his dispensary was back to work after taking the shot.