The first batch of Covid-19 vaccine (Covishield), 1,46,500 doses, from Serum Institute of India, Pune, has been received. As per the officials, 79,000 are for Kashmir Valley and 67,500 for Jammu division.
The choppers are being used to ferry the vaccines in areas cut off due to heavy snowfall. Doctors, nurses and sanitation workers, who are part of the priority group, would be getting the vaccine in a couple of days.
Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr. Samir Mattoo and Dr. Qazi Haroon, State Immunization Officer, J&K, and Dr. Renu Sharma, Director Health Services Jammu, were among few who received the vaccine.
The rollout of the vaccine comes amid a survey conducted by communications firm Edelman, showing waning trust in governments and all types of media.
The survey found that this infodemic is breeding mistrust that could make longer the path out from the pandemic.
It found scepticism over vaccines remains a major hurdle for their successful rollout. Across the 28 countries assessed, it found that as of November only a little below two-thirds of respondents said they would be willing to take the vaccine within a year.
India has approved two vaccines in emergency-use mode — Covishield by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech Ltd. While it still is unclear who gets which vaccine, there are more doses of Covishield available at present than Covaxin, nearly five to one, and it could take some time before the millions prioritised get one of their doses.
Covaxin belongs to a league of injections that has been approved sans establishing its efficacy— the extent to which vaccination protects from the virus. There have been differences among scientists such as on the best testing strategy, treatment, extent of infection, but none more divisive than on the approval of Covaxin.
There have been adverse symptoms reported, seen as part of the variety of the human body’s response. However, the vaccine may eventually prove protective. It is good that the top doctors have taken the first dose in J&K and it may help gain public trust. It would be detrimental if the vaccine evokes distrust and would be self-defeating. It could be also worse if vaccine hesitancy rises. The government must seriously examine the issue and work hard to bolster public trust in it, and monitor the vaccination process for any adverse reactions. Beyond doubt spread of misinformation is more damaging and harder to mitigate. People also must listen to experts before forming their own opinions.