NEW DELHI: As the capital battled Covid-19, Raj Nath Shah, a 43-year-old housekeeping staff at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute in South Delhi, didn’t go home for close to six months for fear of exposing his family to the deadly virus. On Saturday, Shah was a much-relieved man after being one of the 4,319 health workers in Delhi to be inoculated in the first phase of vaccination.
“I was informed by the hospital that I would be getting the vaccine and I was happy about it,” said Shah, who stood in a queue near the vaccination booth in the open air after his night duty got over. “I would also like to tell others that there is nothing to be scared about. I am completely fine,” he added.
The scene at west Delhi’s Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Hospital was also celebratory on Saturday morning. The first few recipients of the vaccine were quick to take their seats in the pre-waiting area. Ritu, a vaccinator, said that she and other vaccinators received their training on December 25. “I am privileged to get this opportunity and it is something I am going to remember all my life. I hope this vaccine works for everyone and the pandemic ends soon,” she added.
The vaccination was described as a 45-minute, threestep process by those who took it. The vitals were checked after 15 minutes of the vaccine being administered and each of them monitored for half an hour. They were allowed to leave only if their pulse and blood pressure recorded normal readings.
While only registered healthcare workers are being administered the vaccine at the moment, it didn’t deter some people from walking up to the registration area at Fortis Shalimar Bagh in northwest Delhi to enquire if they could get a shot at the shot. “I have four elders in my family who want to protect themselves against the virus,” explained Kamalnath Bhatia. “But I was told that only healthcare workers can get the jab right now.”
Among those that received Covaxin shots was Sarb Deo, 41, an operation theatre technician at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Deo said he did not know much about which of the two vaccines was better, but was hopeful either would protect him. “I got a call only late last night. The first time for any such thing is scary, but I am thinking positive,” declared Deo.
Dr Parul Goyal, 44, got the Covaxin shot at RML Hospital and said, “We were waiting for the vaccination for months. The vaccine has gone through phase 1 and 2 trials and the central government has given emergency approval for it. I believe something is better than nothing. My husband, a doctor at another hospital, also had no issue with it,” she said.
At Shahdara’s Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, additional waiting and observation rooms were created in tents to ensure the vaccination drive did not interfere with OPD operations. Dr Pragya Shukla of the oncology department, also the nodal vaccine officer at GTB, volunteered to be the first to take the injection to motivate the staff. Lab assistant Divya said, “Unlike in other countries, we didn’t see Indian leaders volunteering for the jabs, so all of us were initially scared about taking the vaccine. But when our seniors stepped forward to have themselves injected, we realised that this was not the time to be afraid.”
Divya, who lives with her parents and two sisters, said her family had been apprehensive about her participation in the vaccine drive and would have preferred for her to wait. But she reassured them and joined the 4,318 others in receiving the vaccine on Saturday.