India — With around 90,000 healthcare and frontline workers of the targeted 5.43 lakh who registered for Covid-19 vaccination yet to be vaccinated, the Odisha government on Tuesday warned that those who are willfully refusing the same without any genuine ground, will no longer get the privileges granted to them.
In a letter to all the Collectors and District Magistrates, and Commissioners of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack. Berhampur, Sambalpur and Rourkela Municipal Corporations, additional chief secretary of health and family welfare department, PK Mohapatra said despite repeated instructions and opportunities given, some registered healthcare workers and frontline workers have not taken the first dose of Covid vaccine.
“Over 85% of healthcare workers have been vaccinated and the vaccination of frontline workers is ongoing with good coverage. Odisha is in third position with reference to Covid-19 vaccination of HCWs and FLWs at the national level,” said Mohapatra.
He said all health care workers and front line workers who have been registered for vaccination but are now willfully refusing the same without any genuine grounds (of a contra-indication condition) will henceforth cease to enjoy the privileges granted by the Government in case of Covid infection such as free treatment, the period of isolation/treatment being counted as duty, financial and other benefits in case of death.
“Odisha has claimed Covid-19 vaccine doses from Govt of India as per the numbers of health care workers and front line workers registered for vaccination If the allocated vaccines are not fully utilised, then the state would be missing out on a critical opportunity to fight the pandemic. Further, those health care workers and front line workers who remain unvaccinated put both their community and their workplace at risk of Covid transmission,” the health secretary said, asking the district officials to take steps to ensure that all HCWs & FLWs take the Covid-19 vaccine within the timeline given by MoHFW.
Earlier this month, the Cuttack district administration had threatened to withhold salaries of healthcare workers if they did not get vaccinated.
In a letter to the officials of Cuttack’s SCB Medical College and Hospital, chief district medical officer, superintendent of Sishu Bhawan and CMC Commissioner, Cuttack district collector Bhabani Shankar Chayani had said as a large number of health workers/anganwadi workers have registered under different establishments were not turning up for the vaccination, their salary/remuneration/stipend for the month would not be drawn.
The letter was withdrawn after the threat of withholding salaries triggered outrage.
The vaccination has slowed down among the anganwadi workers in several districts as many of them are hesitant and unsure of its efficacy. Several anganwadi workers are also hesitant to take the shot as they feel there is no point in taking the vaccine when Odisha is reporting less than 100 Covid-19 cases everyday and the number of active Covid-19 cases have dropped below 1000.