The Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Bengal stepped on its 24th day on Monday but only around 42 per cent of the targeted recipients have been inoculated so far against the disease.
Officials in the state health department and several hospitals said there was still reluctance among a section of people to get vaccinated.
A health department official said 32,323 people were vaccinated across 719 sites in Bengal on Monday, against a target of 71,310 — around 45 per cent.
In 24 days, 5,53,422 people have been administered vaccine doses in the state against a target of 13,32,430 — around 42 per cent.
The vaccination campaign started on January 16 but in Bengal doses have been administered on 24 days.
Heath-care workers and frontline workers are being inoculated in the current round. Officials said the reluctance was mostly among health-care personnel.
“No adverse reaction has been reported for the third consecutive day on Monday. We are expecting this data to remove doubts from the minds of those who are still reluctant to take the first dose of a Covid vaccine. All hospitals and health clinics, government and private, have been requested to do more counselling,” an official said.
“The concern is not so much about the second dose because those who have taken the first dose are ready for the next round.”
The state government has said all health-care workers have to be administered the first dose of a Covid vaccine by February 20, prompting hospitals to draw up a list of employees yet to be inoculated and start a mop-up operation.
“In the initial days of the vaccination, the reluctance was almost 80 per cent. There is still reluctance among our health-care workers, but the percentage has come down to 10 or 15,” said Rupak Barua, the Group CEO of AMRI Hospitals.
He said of the 3,200 employees in the three units of the group in Calcutta, around 2,500 have taken the first dose of a vaccine.
“Those who have suffered from Covid are unwilling to be vaccinated. They are saying that since they have been infected by the virus and developed antibodies, they do not need to get the jab,” Barua said.
At SSKM Hospital, around 2,500 out of the 9,500 health-care personnel, including doctors, medical students, nurses and other employees, are yet to take a dose.
“Among those who are yet to be vaccinated are many medical students who are at home. We are asking them to come to the campus and get vaccinated by February 20,” said an official of SSKM.
At Peerless Hospital, around 100 of the 2,000-odd health-care personnel have not taken the first dose.
“Around 20 per cent have genuine medical reasons like pregnancy and allergies. There are about 80 per cent who need to be counselled,” said Sudipta Mitra, the chief executive of Peerless Hospital.
He said the most common reason cited by those who are unwilling to be vaccinated is resistance from family members, who are still scared of adverse reactions.
“We are constantly counselling them. We are telling them that many recipients have taken their second dose, too. We hope everyone will get the first dose by February 20,” said Mitra.
Health department officials said they had informed the Centre that they were ready to start vaccinating people above 50 and those suffering from comorbidities after March 6.
According to a state health department official, about 65 per cent of around seven lakh health-care workers have been vaccinated.
“If we can’t complete vaccination of health-care and frontline workers by Feb-ruary 20, it would be difficult to start vaccination of the general public,” said an official of the health department.
Metro reported on Monday that many vaccination sites in the city had started identifying healthcare workers who are yet to be inoculated and are informing them about the deadline.