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5% of healthcare staff in Mumbai not eligible for Covid-19 shot?

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Day 2 of the Covid-19 vaccination drive in Mumbai ended on Tuesday, officials at the vaccine centres, who did not wish to be named, estimate that almost 5% of the healthcare workers (HCWs) are likely to be ineligible for the Covid-19 jab as they do not qualify the parameters required for the inoculation.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), however, said that it has no cumulative data yet to ascertain the figures. “We have to check all the medical history to ensure an HCW doesn’t develop any severe reaction due to the vaccine. In a very limited number of cases, potential beneficiaries are refused vaccine for their own good. But currently, I don’t have the accumulated data with me,” said Dr Mangala Gomare, executive health officer, BMC.

Dr Anilkumar Gondale, a medical officer at Shatabdi hospital, Govandi, has been diagnosed with oesophagus cancer and is undergoing treatment at Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), Parel. On Day-1 of the vaccination (January 16), Dr Gondale was asked to visit the Lokmanya Tilak General Hospital (Sion hospital) for immunisation. However, Dr Gondale was unable to go as he was undergoing chemotherapy at TMH on the day. On Tuesday, he went to the hospital along with his wife Dr Asha Lata to get the Covishield jab, but had to return home without getting the vaccine.

“The doctors checked his medicines and his health parameters. But later the hospital asked us to get a medical certificate from TMH to get him vaccinated,” said Dr Lata.

Like Dr Gondale, several HCWs have not been able to qualify for the immunisation owing to their medical history.

The Union health ministry has issued some vaccine specific contraindications – symptoms or health conditions that make inoculation risky. These contraindications prohibit pregnant women, lactating mothers, patients with a history of allergic reaction to injectable therapies and pharmaceutical products as well as individuals with clotting or coagulation disorders, among others, from getting the shot.

“When a beneficiary comes to a vaccination centre, we record their medical history, including all the contraindications specified by the ministry. We also check their health parameters such as blood pressure, oxygen saturation and fever,” said Dr Rajesh Dere, in-charge of the vaccine centre at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) jumbo centre.

Doctors said there is a need to sensitise the public and advise citizens to read about the vaccines before the process. “The vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin) are made of different components. For example, Covishield has ingredients such as magnesium chloride hexahydrate, ethanol, sucrose, sodium chloride, among others. If anyone has a history of allergic reaction to either of these ingredients, they should inform the health officers stationed at the centres,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician at Bombay Hospital.

In case anyone develops any adverse effect after the vaccine, they should call their respective ward offices. The telephone numbers are available on the official website of BMC. “We keep an observation on the beneficiaries for 48 hours. Our health officers follow up with them over the phone to check if they develop any adverse reactions,” said BMC’s immunisation officer Dr Sheela Jagtap.

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