The Bengal government has made it mandatory for health workers unwilling to take Covid-19 jabs to give a written undertaking to the health department that they are reluctant to take the vaccine.
Sources said only 56 per cent of over seven lakh health and frontline workers had been vaccinated across Bengal till February 10. They added only 50 per cent of the target group had taken the vaccine in a few districts.
In a video conference on Thursday evening, the top brass of the state health department asked district health officials to finish the vaccination of health workers by February 20 and of frontline workers by 25th.
“Despite repeated appeals, a large number of health workers are skipping vaccination. Our officials have approached all reluctant candidates personally. We can’t wait forever. So, those unwilling to take the vaccination will need to give a written undertaking about their refusal,” said a senior health official.
The government has prepared a format for the undertaking that includes the name, designation, place of posting and contact number of the employee unwilling to take the jab.
Health officials in the districts said there were two categories of health workers refusing vaccination — a section that is not sure about the efficacy of the jab and is scared of adverse reaction and then there are auxiliary nurse midwives who want the government to settle their financial demands before they are inoculated.
“We could convince around 20 per cent of auxiliary nurse midwives to take vaccine but the large section of them was refusing. In our district, we have already circulated the format to all block level medical officers and requested them to send copies of undertakings duly signed by those unwilling within three days,” said a senior health official in Birbhum.
Pranab Roy, the chief medical officer of health in East Burdwan, said: “The undertaking in the prescribed format has been circulated among unwilling candidates across the district. We will start collecting the undertakings and our officials have informed them that they will have no right in future to demand free vaccine if they refuse it now.”
Sources in the state health department said vaccination at most places in Bengal had started on January 16.
Sources said the department would also take similar undertakings from frontline workers and others who would be unwilling to take the vaccine. “Frontline workers unwilling to take the jab will also have to give it in writing. The government wants to complete the vaccination process at the earliest so that the process to vaccinate elderly citizens could be started,” said a health official.
The state health department on Friday asked districts to be prepared to start the second dose of vaccination for those who have taken the vaccine 28 days ago.
The process of a second dose of vaccination will start soon, an official said.