Not a single doctor or paramedic of the 2,000 working at public hospitals in Pune, India have accepted free flu shots offered to them by state government, according to the Times of India.
Yet hospitals in the US increasingly force their employees to receive these inoculations, although they have not been shown to reduce infections or death in staff members or patients. And new data increasingly show that you are actually more likely to become clinically ill with flu if you have received a flu vaccine in a prior, recent year. I have blogged abstracts on this subject before.
PUNE: The H1N1 virus is still active, but not all paramedics and doctors treating infected patients at PMC-run hospitals have got themselves vaccinated.
Barring doctors involved in swine flu patient care at designated private hospitals, the front-line medical staff at corporation hospitals and dispensaries have turned their backs to the injectible vaccine given free of cost by the Union government.
The city has reported over 70 positive cases and four deaths in the month of August so far. On Thursday, five more tested positive. The condition of a 29-year-old man is critical.
"It is true that the vaccine has been made available for our medical staff, but there is reluctance to get vaccinated. None of them took the shot, but we are sensitising them to get vaccinated to shield themselves from the infection," said S T Pardeshi, PMC medical officer of health (MoH).
The PMC received 3,050 vaccine doses for its 2,000 front-line medical staff including doctors, paramedics etc and 1,000 medical staff involved in swine flu patient-care at private hospitals designated as swine flu treatment centres in Pune. "Barring 1,182 doctors in private designated hospitals, none of the medical staff at Naidu and other PMC-run hospitals and dispensaries have taken the vaccine," said another civic official. Over 1,800 doses are lying unused.The resurgence of swine flu infection in Pune, Mumbai and nearby areas in the state during summer this year had prompted the Union Health Ministry to procure vaccines for medical staff involved in management of H1N1 infection cases in Maharashtra. The ministry's Emergency Medical Relief (EMR) department had asked state officials to furnish exact requirement of the doses for the staff a few days ago. Accordingly, the doses were made available by end of April.
"The objective was to vaccinate the front-line health staff before monsoon since rains provide conducive setting for proliferation of influenza viruses," said state epidemiologist Pradip Awate, who is also the state surveillance officer.
During the previous outbreak, the Union health ministry had to call back unused doses of imported vaccines following poor response from doctors and paramedical staff. In July 2010, when the infection was at its peak across the state, only 2,055 of the 34,300 medical staff in the state involved in treatment of H1N1 cases had taken the vaccine. "We can only advise the medical staff to take the vaccine, not force them," said officials.