People should continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing until there is a better understanding of the effect of the vaccinated population on transmission, top vaccine expert Gagandeep Kang said on Thursday.
She said sections of rural populations still worry about how safe the vaccine is and the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) preparations are "not tailored enough" to address the problem. "Until we have a better understanding of the effect of vaccinated population on transmission, we should continue to wear masks and think about social distancing processes.
"We will now know through effectiveness studies that are currently being designed at WHO and I hope that India will participate in those studies," Kang said in a webinar organised by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT). She was responding to a question on whether COVID-appropriate behaviour will still be essential after a vaccine is administered and how big the vaccine hesitancy is.
Kang, who is currently with the Christian Medical College, Vellore, said there is a lot of hesitance about the vaccine among the rural population. "If you speak to rural populations in many parts of the country, people are coming up with stories that they have been told about the vaccines being unsafe, about the vaccines not working, and I really worry that all the preparations that are being done, with the IEC material that the government is developing, it's not tailored enough for the populations we need to address.
"So, big problem and we need better preparations, she said.