Read Editorial with D2G – Ep 501
Whatever it takes: On govt. powers to combat vaccine hesitancy
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Meanings are given in BOLD
Faith in entities ( something that exists separately from something else and has its own identity ) is often an act of personal commitment ( a promise or agreement to do something; a responsibility ) not amenable ( happy to accept something; willing to be influenced by somebody/something ) to falsification ( the action of falsifying information or a theory), but trust in a scientific process can be established with confidence-building measures and full disclosure ( the action of making new or secret information known ) of all relevant data.
Any mass campaign that involves voluntary effort on the part of the public can succeed only when transparency and open communication channels are the tools of choice. If the poor rate of uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine in most of the States in the country is any indication, the government has not taken the people of the country along, in what is a purely voluntary exercise, but one vested ( give (someone) the legal right to power, property, etc ) with great power to retard ( delay or hold back in terms of progress or development ) the pace of the epidemic.
For instance, Tamil Nadu, a State perceived ( become aware or conscious of (something); come to realize or understand ) to be largely health literate ( having education or knowledge, typically in a specified area ), and relatively well-equipped with health infrastructure, achieved only over 16% of its targeted coverage on the launch day. On the second day of vaccination, the compliance further dropped; in some States, vaccination was suspended. A marked favouring of the Covishield vaccine over Covaxin was also noticed in multiple States.
But none of this is a surprise. The signs, verily ( truly; certainly ), were out there for everyone to see, for a long time indeed. Studies measured high levels of vaccine hesitancy ( the quality or state of being hesitant (the action of pausing before saying or doing something) ) among the general population, and among health-care workers, the first in the line list of people to receive free vaccination.
Clearly, vaccine hesitancy was not addressed sufficiently, or not taken seriously enough. With the sequence of events that followed the clearance of Emergency Use Authorisation (in Covaxin, it is emergency use authorisation in ‘clinical trial mode’) — a high-handed announcement with little attempt to put out compelling evidence in the public domain, or answer multiple queries in press conferences — vaccine hesitancy merely ( just; only) dug ( push or poke sharply ) its heels in deeper.
The inability of the government and agencies involved to amicably ( in a friendly and peaceable manner ) resolve controversies surrounding the clearance for Covaxin, even before it was able to produce interim data on efficacy from phase-3 trials, has had a direct consequence, as witnessed by poor numbers in its uptake so far. A vaccine, unequivocally ( in a friendly and peaceable manner), is public good, but the lack of transparency surrounding the roll-out of the COVID vaccines has done little to enhance trust in this experiential principle.
This uncommon haste ( excessive speed or urgency of movement or action; hurry ) in trying to lunge ( make a sudden forward thrust with ) towards the tape while still some distance from the finish line might have been justified if the state had taken the people along. Vaccinating the nation, however, is less a race than a slow and steady process. Building confidence in the process is crucial to achieving the task at hand. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oft-repeated mantra, ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, is very relevant ( closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered ) here. And the Health Ministry must do whatever it takes to make a success of the vaccination drive.