Rituraj Borthakur

Guwahati, Jan 17: In what could address the initial vaccine hesitancy, just five minor adverse events following immunization (AEFI) were reported among beneficiaries who received the first COVID-19 vaccine in Assam yesterday. All were minor cases. According to the Union Health Ministry, there were 447 AEFI cases across India, and only three required hospitalization.

The government had said that the vaccines may come with some side effects including mild fever; pain at the injection site and body ache, but only some individuals may experience them. They are similar to side-effects which occur after other vaccines.

Two PG students from Assam Medical College and Hospital showed minor AEFI like fever in the morning today, but were said to be fine in the evening. Yesterday, three AEFI cases were reported in the State, one each from Tinsukia, Golaghat and Bongaigaon. They were minor issues like giddiness and mild itching post vaccination. All were released after symptomatic treatment.

On the first day of the exercise, around 3,528 healthcare workers were inoculated in 65 session sites of the State. From the coming week, the exercise will be carried out on four days of the week – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. No vaccination was conducted today.

Official sources told The Assam Tribune that there was some hesitancy among the proposed beneficiaries, which was one of the factors for the low turn-out. Assam could immunize only 54 per cent of the scheduled beneficiaries on the first day. In each of the 65 sites, 100 beneficiaries were scheduled to be immunized.

“Firstly, the exercise began late as it could be started only after the ceremonial launch by the Prime Minister. Also, some did not turn up as they were hesitant to take the vaccine. Probably, they wanted to see if there was any side-effect. We expect a better turn-out from Monday,” the sources said.

Glitches in the Co-WIN portal was also reported as some beneficiaries did not receive the text messages which notified the time and date for the immunization.

“In some places, ASHA workers – who were also beneficiaries – were on a strike due to some issue,” the sources added.

The number of session sites is likely to be increased as the immunization progresses.

The State had trained 8651 vaccinators and 1300 supervisors for the COVID vaccination programme. In addition, trained medical teams to treat adverse reactions, if any, have been also kept ready in all districts and medical colleges.

The State has so far received 2,21,500 doses of vaccine. The next lot of vaccine is expected to arrive in the coming week.