With the start of the Covid-19 vaccination process, more than 20,000 doctors and healthcare workers reportedly received the first dose of vaccine on Saturday. The Sunday Express spoke to some of them. They shared stories of their battle against Covid-19 in the last 11 months, their fears, and spoke of a glimmer of hope that the vaccine has brought.
Amar Bahadur Singh, 43
The Junior Assistant at the Public Health Dentistry Department of King George’s Medical University (KGMU) was the first person to receive the vaccine at KGMU as well as in the state. Singh, who works at the Covid helpdesk of KGMU, said that being in the medical field and continuously coming in contact with Covid patients have been triggering a constant fear, which will now end after receiving both the doses. He said he wanted to be the first to receive the vaccine as it is a matter of pride for him.
“There was a lot of fear and concern in our lives due to coronavirus. I work at the hospital and so, have separated my room from everyone else in my family. As I work at a Covid helpdesk, I know all the protocols in detail and follow them at home. But things are much harder in winters than they were in the summers. Taking shower and changing dress three to four times a day is not possible anymore. But we take it as our duty to fight this battle,” said Singh, who lives with his wife, a 13-year-old daughter and an elderly mother.
Asked about his family members and if he will get them vaccinated soon if it is available in the market, he said on Saturday itself his daughter complained that he took the vaccine, while he did not arrange the same for her. “I laughed and said that I have no other option but to follow the rules set by the government. There are also some concerns about the vaccine, but when there is no treatment we have to try the vaccines. I do not see any harm in that. In fact, I wanted to be the first person to be vaccinated here so that I am remembered in history,” he said.
He said initially he had some concerns as he suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes. “I came back to work just a few hours after getting the shot, and I believe I am going to have a great sleep once my duty is over at 10 pm,” said Singh.
Dr Surya Kant Tripathi, 55
The Head of Department of the Respiratory Medicine Department at KGMU, was the first doctor to get the vaccine, and said his taking the shot should clear all doubts that people might have in their mind. Talking to The Sunday Express, he said that he came back to work after remaining 40 minutes under observation. He did not suffer from any side effect.
“The healthcare staff at the vaccine centre checked my pulse and oxygen saturation. Everything is normal. I am a doctor and have been treating Covid patients for the last several months. I am also on the panel to check if there are any side effects of the vaccine. Based on my personal experience, I can say that the vaccine is absolutely safe. Everyone should get vaccinated when their chance comes,” said Tripathi. He, however, added that those vaccinated should not lower their guards even after getting both the doses, as they still can be carriers for others.
Asked about his experiences about dealing with the pandemic, he said that initially when it broke out in the country, it was absolutely new and no one was aware about it.
“At the beginning, we were clueless and unaware. But after the lockdown started and lot of researches were conducted, we started learning about the virus. We got to know about several medicines that helped fight Covid. I myself was part of the panel that published a white paper that looked at Ivermectin, one of the old medications used to treat parasite infestations, and evaluated its use in Covid-19 management,” said Tripathi.
He added that we are closing in towards winning this fight against coronavirus, and we have to take both the biological vaccine as well as the social vaccine, which is following the basic Covid protocols, to make this happen.
Dr Pallavi Sharma, 36
For Sharma, from the dental department at Sharda hospital, Greater Noida, the Covid breakout period was agonising. While she herself did not contract the disease, more than eight members of her family tested positive and her uncle succumbed to it.
As she received the vaccine at Sharda hospital on Saturday morning, Pallavi had mixed feelings. “It is a sense of relief and also a privilege to be the first ones to receive the vaccine. The vaccine is being given out to those in the health department and other frontline workers. I stayed here in Noida, while my entire family in Agra had Covid. I lost a close family member too, and it was quite painful. But with the vaccine here, there is hope,” said Sharma.