Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan received his Covaxin shot at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital at Trichy on Sunday. In an interview to News18.com, he says both Covishield and Covaxin vaccines are safe and that people who have got the opportunity to receive the jabs should utilise it.
In comparison to other states, Tamil Nadu's response on the first day of vaccination seems to be poor. What is the reason?
This is not a target-oriented programme. It is going to be a very long process. We are not looking at purely numbers. As we gradually expand the session sites and expand the coverage, we should keep improving on the numbers. Our primary goal is to ensure that no adverse event take place.
How are you tackling the hesitancy around vaccination?
It is our duty to clarify the doubts of healthcare workers who want to get vaccinated and we are doing it. After prominent doctors taking the first dose on the first day, people who are hesitant will come forward to take the vaccine. In Trichy, where I was administered vaccine, I was happy to see the President of Tamil Nadu Nurses association, Valarmathi, taking her vaccine dose. She also made an appeal to other healthcare workers to get vaccinated.
One has to understand that it is not like pulse polio vaccination where we have to achieve a target in a stipulated time. It is like Aadhar Card distribution where no one comes forward in the beginning and gradually people start coming in and at one point they wait in queues. Therefore, whoever is eligible for vaccination should utilise the opportunity. The state is planning to vaccinate 1.6 crore of its population by the end of this year subject to the supply of the vaccine.
What made you take the vaccine dose in the first phase?
I am a healthcare administrator who has been on field for months regularly visiting containment zones and hospitals, including Covid wards. Also, incidentally I am the Chairman of Tamil Nadu Medical Service Corporation. I didn't walk into a site and suddenly decide to get vaccinated there. I had already registered for my vaccination at Trichy site. I can't stand behind without volunteering myself when I know I can be at risk. Therefore, I did not hesitate to get vaccinated.
Why did you choose Covaxin over Covishield?
Both Covishield and Covaxin are completely safe, give good immunogenicity and have come to use only after Drug Controller General of India's approval. My session site had Covaxin and I was happy to take it. It is not only safe, but also developed by Indian researchers.
Will vaccine be the game changer in our fight against Covid?
Vaccine is a milestone. It is an important step ahead in our fight against the virus. At the same time, we should not let our guards down.