Hurdles of the COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Urvashi Kumar, an undergraduate medical student in Rajarajeswari Medical College and Hospital, India who aspires to become a surgeon. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

A complete calendar year has passed since the COVID-19 pandemic began and the world’s ears are thirsty for good news. The good news that certainly came in the form of successfully developed vaccines against the Novel Corona Virus or the SARS-CoV-2. In November of 2020, Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca confirmed the efficacy and immunogenicity of their respective vaccines. Not too long after this, Bharat Biotech also confirmed successful results in its quest for developing a vaccine against COVID-19. The world breathed a sigh of relief through its long worn, suffocating mask. The beginning of the end came with a surprise package of multiple challenges around it.

A major hurdle in our path seems to be the lack of awareness in people regarding what vaccines are, how they work, what are their types and how they are different from each other, adverse effects after vaccination and why it happens etc. The rumours around the adverse effects that the vaccine produces, predominantly spread in the form of memes and viral videos seems to be a big factor that is making the general public hesitant towards getting vaccinated. In countries that are already facing an “anti-vaccine” behaviour from its citizens, this problem seems to be enhancing the obstacles in the path of the government to get people vaccinated. Additionally, some of the vaccines are not approved for use in children below 18yrs, in hypertensive patients, diabetics, in pregnant women and lactating women.

Majority of the countries in the world went into recession, owing to the nationwide lockdown that was imposed to prevent the spread of the disease. In such times, acquiring/ purchasing vaccines or manufacturing them in the large quantities based on their need comes with a great burden of cost on the government. Adding to this, costs of distribution, storage and maintenance of the vials and syringes in appropriate conditions is a tough task. While in later stages of management, maybe, these vaccines might be sold at a higher price, the current situation demands a mass vaccination drive that covers majority of the population, which means that the vaccine needs to be cost effective to have the widespread reach that we desire. This does nothing to reduce the burden on the nation’s economy. Further, availability of infrastructure to observe for and manage any adverse effect after immunization is difficult in developing countries, underdeveloped countries and in remote areas which have a poor connectivity with the metropolitan or semi-urban areas.

As the world celebrated the availability of these vaccines, we also heard the news about new coronavirus strains emerging across the world. Due to this, people started wondering about the efficacy of the available vaccines against these new strains. Also, acquiring man power and resources to address and deal with such a large-scale vaccination drive it difficult as it involves prompt tracking, updating, contacting for next doses etc.

These are just some of the challenges around vaccination drive that aims to end the Coronavirus Pandemic.

About the author

Urvashi Kumar is an undergraduate medical student in Rajarajeswari Medical College and Hospital who aspires to become a surgeon. She did her schooling from Mitra Academy and BGS National Public School. She is an avid reader and has a passion for writing, watching sports and public speaking. She is currently the Resources Head for the National Research Team at the Indian Association of Geriatrics- Student Chapter, a Biochemistry faculty at the Eureka Programme, a published author in 4 anthologies and the co-founder of Elysium House of Books, an upcoming publication house. She has participated in, organized and volunteered in various webinars conducted by MSAI and Plexus MD.

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