Dr Madhura Patil, the first health worker to get vaccinated in Mumbai’s BKC jumbo facility, said in the last two days, several health workers have called her to inquire how she felt post-vaccination.

Some had weekend getaways planned, some missed the text message, and some decided to follow the ‘wait and watch’ strategy. However, in the two days since the first round of the Covid-19 immunisation drive, Maharashtra has not recorded a single fatal event due to the vaccine. This may bolster the courage of several, who until now were shying away from getting vaccinated.

Across the state, 64.3 percent of 28,500 health workers turned up for vaccination in 285 centres. In Mumbai, the number was lowest, with a 48.5 percent turnout of 4,000 being invited on January 16.

Dr Madhura Patil, the first health worker to get vaccinated in Mumbai’s BKC jumbo facility, said in the last two days, several health workers have called her to inquire how she felt post-vaccination. “I am telling everyone I am fine. I feel no side effects. I have been encouraging others to get vaccinated. After seeing me they may gain more confidence,” she said.

At Jawhar in the tribal Palghar district, Dr Ramdas Mahad, a superintendent in the sub-district hospital and one of the first beneficiaries of Covishield, said 17 hospital staffers listed for vaccination did not turn up. “About 14 beneficiaries were pregnant or lactating women and were ineligible to get vaccinated, and another 17 did not come. It could be vaccine hesitancy or they could be out of town that day,” Mahad said.

Pandurang Bagul, a lab technician in the Palghar sub-district hospital, was told late on Friday by hospital authorities about Saturday’s vaccination drive. “I had to attend a family function in a nearby village. Several people in hospitals were also saying they would wait for a few days before taking the vaccine. Now that other staffers are alright, and have only small complaints of headache and nausea, I am ready to take the vaccine on Tuesday,” Bagul said.

Dr Ram Katkade said he did turn up because it was his day off and he had already made plans to travel outside. “A day’s notice for vaccination may not work for everyone,” he said, adding that his name is on the list for Tuesday’s vaccination. “I will get vaccinated on Tuesday,” he said.

Several health workers had decided to see how the first round of vaccination went. While the state recorded over 280 adverse events, all of them were mild and required no serious medical intervention. Most cases were limited to the Vidarbha belt.

Dr Prashant Howal, in-charge of overlooking vaccination in JJ Hospital, was himself a beneficiary of the vaccine on January 16, but decided to wait for a few days. “I have viral conjunctivitis and because my health was down, I decided to wait. Once I recover, I will opt for vaccination,” he said. Howal will most likely miss the second scheduled round of vaccination on Tuesday too due to illness. “We believe the numbers will rise once people get more confident about the vaccine,” he said.

Dr Sheela Jagtap, BMC immunisation officer, said the excitement of health workers for vaccination has significantly increased over the last two days. “Our ward-level offices are getting numerous enquiries to check if names are registered on the list. The turnout will be higher in coming days,” she said. Vaccination is not mandatory for health workers. Currently the state or BMC does not plan any awareness exercise to encourage participation.

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