Union Health Ministry says COVID-19 vaccination voluntary; Delhi govt issues order making it mandatory

Health care workers attached to various hospitals continue to be sceptical about taking the vaccine, expressing safety concerns

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Ashlin Mathew

Two months after the Union Health Ministry had stated that vaccination for COVID-19 was voluntary, the Delhi government issued a public statement stating that the all health care workers had to mandatorily take the first dose of COVID-19 vaccination by February 20.

The second dose of the vaccine began to be administered from February 13.

In the notice put out by Directorate of Family Welfare, the government states that vaccination of all health care workers whose names have already been registered on the CoWIN portal has to be mandatorily completed by February 20 as stipulated by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The notice added that the health care workers whose names are already registered on the CoWIN app can walk-in to any designated vaccination session even if they have not received a scheduling SMS.

Union Health Ministry says COVID-19 vaccination voluntary; Delhi govt issues order making it mandatory

The Central government had introduced an application named CoWIN (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Work) to manage the inoculation drive initially among health care workers. Later, people will be able to register for vaccination through the app.

The CoWIN app has the names of all the health care workers in the state whether they opted in for vaccination or not. “The employee lists from all hospitals were given. Initially, those who wanted to opt for vaccination were asked to register, but several of us did not volunteer. Later all our names were given,” said a doctor working at Safdarjung Hospital who did not want to be named.

Concurring with this, a nurse working at Lok Nayak Hospital said, “Several of the health care workers have not got themselves vaccinated. Now, the Delhi government has ordered us to get vaccinated. We did not give our names for vaccination. The hospital gave the employee list to the government. If there is a severe adverse reaction, the government has said that there will be no compensation. There should be more protection for us.” The person did not want to be identified.


According to the December 19 FAQ released by the Union Health Ministry, “Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary. However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of COVID-19 vaccine for protecting one-self against this disease and also to limit the spread of this disease to the close contacts including family members, friends, relatives and co-workers.”

(https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/FAQsonCOVID19VaccineDecember2020.pdf)

Moreover, people with certain kinds of co-morbidities have been advised to not take the vaccination. “The government order states all of us must take it. But I have hypertension and diabetes. The government advisory says it is safe, but I do not think it is safe for me to take it. The government should be mindful of these health issues,” said a health care worker at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The Health Ministry guidelines state that vaccines should not be administered in people with immediate or delayed onset of anaphylaxis or allergic reaction to injectable therapies, pharmaceutical products and food items. Moreover, the vaccine should be administered with caution in persons with history of bleeding or who are on blood thinners, they say.

Covaxin, produced by Bharat Biotech, should not be administered to lactating women and those with serious health issues as determined by the officer supervising vaccination, as per the guidelines.

In Delhi, 1,62,596 health workers have been vaccinated as of February 13. On Saturday, February 13, 13,768 beneficiaries were vaccinated, of which 6 cases of AEFI (adverse event following immunisation) were reported. In addition to this, 249 cases of AEFI have been seen in the Capital.

Meanwhile, the Capital witnessed 126 new COVID-19 cases on February 13, taking the total number of cases to 6,36,796, according to a health bulletin released by the Delhi government on Saturday.

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