CHENNAI: “I come daily to Stanley GH’s COVID-19 ward for roomkeeping work and don't want anyone else to get infected through me. Even when my family was against it, I wanted to take the vaccine on the first day itself,” said M Indra, a conservancy and roomkeeping staffer at Stanley GH who took the Serum Institute’s Covishield on the inaugural day of the nationwide vaccine rollout.
As she waits in the observation room after taking the jab, Indra says that she was initially very hesitant on enrolling for the vaccination drive immediately due to fears of health consequences. “My parents, husband, and family members all advised me not to take the vaccine. But then I saw frontline doctors confidently enrolling. I also wanted to be a responsible healthcare worker like them,” she says.
While it was mostly senior doctors who took the COVID-19 vaccine in Tamil Nadu on the inaugural day, some healthcare workers comprising sanitary staff, roomkeeping staff and ward level workers cast their fears aside and also went ahead to take the jab.
The New Indian Express visited the vaccination observation rooms in different hospitals to speak to various people who took the vaccine. Like Indra, many healthcare workers including sanitary staff, roomkeeping staff and ward level technicians came forward across various hospitals to get the COVID-19 vaccine jab. “In the last few months, I used to worry about the reactions of those who know me as I was working in a COVID ward. At least now I can tell them I am vaccinated,” Indra says with a smile.
Panjavarnam, another Krystal worker at Stanley GH who ensures that COVID-19 wards are neat and clean, said she was very closely exposed to coronavirus patients and decided to take the vaccine for her own and society’s good.
“I had so much fear and even now my husband told to take leave and avoid the vaccination drive. But I listened to the advice of doctors and decided to take this vaccine in the hope that it would permanently get rid of the virus,” says Panjavarnam who also took the Covishield jab.
She said that many of her colleagues had gotten infected in the past and she has never seen as many deaths during her life as she saw during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Everyday I saw people die here during the pandemic. We clean their rooms after they are vacated. Seeing that, I realised the importance of the vaccine and convinced myself to take it,” she says.
Similarly, at the Institute of Child Health, many ward level workers and healthcare workers took the vaccine on the first day. Narmada, ward manager at the ICH, who took the Covishield vaccine said it took a lot of willpower to come forward and take the vaccine when her family was against it.
“Everyone must take the vaccine and people must not believe in rumours. Even my family was against it but I explained to them the importance of it. It is my own decision to take the vaccine and my family even today told me to take leave,” adds Narmada as she waits in the observation room.
Vyjayanthimala, a health advisor at the ICH, said she gained confidence after seeing doctors take the vaccine. “All of us involved in fighting the pandemic are frontline workers and everyone needs to take the vaccine,” she said. At the ICH, the Public Relations Officer S Gangadharan was among those who took the vaccine shot.