Asma Gul

A large number of rumors regarding Covid-19 vaccine safety continue to circulate among public in Pakistan. Particularly among women there is a tendency that Covid-19 vaccines are not good for their health.

However, this leads to the question whether these rumors are true and how the vaccines affect the women health either negatively or positively.

A vaccinator working with the mobile Covid-19 vaccination team while requesting anonymity told TNN that they were assigned the task of persuading women to get the jabs. He said that it was a difficult job as even those women who were quite confident regarding polio inoculation and vaccination, were hesitant to take the Covid-19 vaccines.

“A day after vaccinating a women, we received complaints that she had developed boils on her body,” he said.

The vaccinator said that they reported the case to area’s basic health unit. “A team of specialist doctors after checking the woman diagnosed her conditions as allergy, which has nothing to do with the Covid-19 vaccination,” he said.

In another similar incident, another woman complained that arms started to hurt after receiving the vaccine. However, after a few days later she was feeling fine.

Besides, another woman claimed that the vaccination led to the miscarriage. Similarly, another woman claimed that the vaccine will increase the libido of those taking people and encourage wayward behavior.

Professor Dr Iftikhar Khan, an expert with the Emergency Outbreak Response and Community Engagement said that at the start of last year, Pakistan like rest of the world faced vaccine related rumors and propaganda.

However, Dr Khan said that in the face of propaganda, the National Command and Information Center (NCOC) took timely steps in coordination with the health department, which stemmed the tide of the rumors.

He said that about 1,000 vaccination points were setup all over the province to ensure vaccination of the eligible population.

Besides, he termed the speculations and rumors regarding the Covid-19 vaccination as baseless. “The slow vaccination process also accelerated after taking all stakeholders onboard,” he said.

Dr Khan said that thus the people were made to realize the vaccination has no ill effects.

However, he said that sometimes there were complaints of fever from those receiving Pfizer vaccine, which was normal reaction. “Rest of the rumors regarding ill effects were baseless,” he said.

In order to encounter the negative propaganda, meetings were held with religious clerics to make them play their role. In addition to this, virtual meetings were held with teachers through education department. “Teachers played their role spreading awareness about vaccination through their students,” he said. Besides awareness sessions were also held with the lady health workers, EPI employees and doctors.

In addition to this, announcements were made over loudspeakers about the benefits of vaccination in remote areas.

Dr Iftikhar said that linking arm pain after vaccination with some serious issue was not correct. “Every injection causes some pain in arm,” he said.

He said that at the start when fewer vaccines were available and propaganda was in full swing, health department started to inoculate its own staff to create positive atmosphere for the vaccination.

However, he said that when the provincial government received large batches of vaccine, the anti-vaccine largely died down after great many people received their jabs.

To counter the anti-vaccine rumors among women, Dr Khan said that they solicited help of LHWs and EPI employees and they went about homes educating women about the good impacts of vaccination.

Dr Khan said that at the start of campaign, staffs of BHUs and rural health centers were given the jab, which helped reduce other women misgiving regarding the vaccine and they started receiving their jabs.

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