The registration of healthcare workers for Covid-19 vaccination has remained suspended at least for the last 10 days, which is resulting in unrest and apprehensions among the medical fraternity at a time when the provincial government is threatening to terminate all medical workers who would not get themselves vaccinated.
This was stated by Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) office-bearers while addressing a news conference in Karachi on Friday. They urged the government to facilitate thousands of healthcare workers who were willing to get vaccinated against the infectious disease but were being denied the service at adult vaccination centres (AVCs) in Karachi and other cities of Sindh.
“The registration of healthcare workers above 60 has not been carried out for the last 10 days, and when they approach adult vaccination centres, they are told that as they are not registered with the 1166 or NIMS, they can’t get vaccinated,” said Dr Qaiser Sajjad, secretary general of the PMA.
He urged provincial health minister Dr Azra Pechuho to immediately withdraw her warning to the healthcare workers regarding their job termination.
Accompanied by Dr Qazi Muhammad Wasiq, Dr Mirza Ali, Dr Muhammad Sharif Hashmani and Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro, Dr Sajjad said that earlier it was assumed that healthcare workers were reluctant to get themselves vaccinated because of some confusions and misconceptions, but since the establishment o a vaccination centre at the PMA House Karachi, it had been observed that doctors were eagerly coming to this centre, and hundreds of them have got themselves inoculated.
“We are thankful to Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Sindh health minister, for establishing a corona vaccination centre for healthcare workers at the PMA House Karachi. We are also thankful to the DHO South and his team for making all arrangements to run this centre,” he said but added that it was very disappointing that for the last 10 days, the registration of healthcare workers had not been done.
“Even healthcare worker’s portal 1166 and website for registration is inactive. Healthcare workers are helplessly waiting to be protected through vaccination.”
Unfortunately, said Dr Sajjad, this was happening when the number of Covid-19 cases was increasing geometrically in Pakistan and the number of deaths was also increasing.
“The positivity rate has climbed above 10 per cent. Due to the spread of the UK variant [of the virus] in the country, the situation is worsening day by day and the burden of Covid-19 over healthcare workers and hospitals is mounting in Punjab and Islamabad,” he said and added that sadly, over 190 doctors and 30 paramedics had embraced martyrdom due to the fatal virus.
“Our frontline soldiers are very much depressed over the situation, so we demand from the government to immediately resume the registration of healthcare workers for vaccination to protect them so that they can serve the nation with courage and peace of mind.”
The PMA secretary general said Pakistan had been facing waves of Covid-19 since its eruption in February 2020, and by the end of July 2020, when the curve of Covid-19 was flattening in Pakistan, people thought that the coronavirus had been eliminated.
“Instead, the flattening curve began to rise and we called it the second wave. The situation remained the same and today we are facing the third wave of Covid-19. We have been asking the government to implement SOPs strictly, and we have been continuously requesting the people to follow SOPs, but our voice is never heard. If the situation remains the same, we
might face more waves,” he further warned.
The PMA leader said negligence and violation of SOPs could create a polio-like situation, and the government should immediately take strict action against any violations of SOPs in the country and make laws to implement them so that violators could be punished or heavily fined.
“We call upon the government to form a uniform policy in the country for the elimination of the coronavirus from the country. We believe that if the government fails to implement the SOPs, then the only way to control the transmission of the virus is to impose a complete lockdown in the city. The PMA also advises the government to increase the vaccination facilities to vaccinate more people in a shorter time. At least 70 -75 per cent of the population of Pakistan should be vaccinated as early as possible.”
In the end, he said, “we request all the doctors who are 60 years of age or above to come to the PMA House to get them vaccinated. They can also get their spouses and parents vaccinated.”