Ever since the pandemic first struck, doctors and healthcare workers have emerged as our first line of defence against infection. Their contributions have been widely reported and lauded. Some of it has even translated into better working conditions for these brave professionals, including better provisions of safety equipment. The primacy of doctors and health workers was also recognized when India first set out its vaccination guidelines, as they became among the highest priority groups to receive the first COVID-19 vaccinations.
However, almost a year on from that first vaccination mandate, a new health issue is emerging among doctors and health workers. Several months after their vaccinations, many are now discovering a complete absence of antibodies in their system. This was noticed during routine antibody tests, and is a worrying sign, considering many of these doctors and healthcare professionals are still involved in COVID-19 treatment and management. Consequently, they have resorted to taking covert booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccination. Since most of these ‘booster’ shots are drawn from the excess spillage doses contained in vaccine vials, they remain unnoticed and unaccounted for.
A few countries, like the United States, have already mandated booster shots for citizens at a higher risk of infections. But India, where only 26.3% of the eligible adult population has been fully vaccinated as of October 3, concerns about equal vaccine distribution and access have withheld such measures. But reports of rapidly diminishing antibody count in the months following the second vaccination dose mean that many people might require booster shots, even before half of India’s population has been fully vaccinated. For doctors and nursing staff, it’s a matter of more urgent concern, which is why they have now taken matters into their own hands.
While doctors taking unauthorized booster shots might be a violation of protocol, the doctors themselves reject all claims of moral dereliction, citing the unforeseen risks they face in performing their duties. To add to the personal hazard, doctors are especially concerned about passing on infections to their families. In domestic set ups, where both parents are doctors, children and elderly relatives are specially at risk of being infected.
From the perspective of doctors and healthcare workers, the only solution is to make a third booster shot of the vaccine for high-risk individuals a matter of policy. Far from diverting resources and upending the vaccination effort, booster doses will help fortify the most vulnerable sections of India’s population, and help secure our collective health and immunity even further.
Join the effort to help every Indian get vaccinated, with India’s largest COVID-19 vaccine awareness drive, Network18 Sanjeevani – A Shot Of Life, a FederalBank Ltd. CSR initiative. It’s time to take a stand for India’s health and immunity.Internet Explorer Channel Network