The COVID-19 vaccination for frontline health workers, police personnel, civil defence staff and municipal workers started in Delhi on Thursday. There are a total of six lakh frontline workers in the national capital.
NDTV visited east Delhi’s Rajiv Gandhi Superspeciality Hospital where frontline workers started queuing up from morning and expressed relief on being vaccinated after a tough year in which they worked round the clock in the midst of the pandemic.
Civil defence member Manohar Lal, 38, said he felt much better after being vaccinated. In the last one year he served long duty hours in quarantine centres and crowded bus depots and stayed away from his wife and two children as he feared he would take the disease back home.
“I am feeling a lot more assured now. We struggled a lot in the last one year. I used to stay away from family for the sake of their safety. There used to be no fixed time for work. It could be 16-18 hours or even 24 hours sometimes,” Mr Lal said.
“We spent more time on the field than at home. In crowded places, it was hard to keep explaining to the public to wear mask and maintain social distancing. But we kept our duty above all else and ensured that the infection does not spread,” he said.
Another civil defence member, 41-year-old Asha had a hard time for months in various containment zones. The civil defence staff is deployed for a minimum of 21 days at a particular spot that has been declared as a containment zone.
“We were deployed in localities where COVID-19 cases were detected. We had to implement the lockdown there and see that people do not step out of their houses. I am feeling good now. Some people were scaring me that I may feel dizzy post vaccination. But all those seem to be rumours. I feel absolutely fine,” Asha told NDTV.
Anganwadi workers also come under the category of frontline workers. Indu Sharma, an Anganwadi worker, said, “We used to conduct door-to-door surveys on COVID-19, ask about people’s health and check if anybody was developing symptoms. There was perpetual risk of catching the virus. But now that I have been vaccinated I can go and do my job with greater confidence,” Ms Sharma said.
The authorities have to ensure that vaccination of healthcare workers and frontline workers take place simultaneously.
“The daily target of beneficiaries at the site is 100 and that 100 include both healthcare as well as frontline workers. The civil defence personnel especially have been coming in groups of eight to 10, so it is in an organised manner and we are able to manage the inflow,” said Dr Chavi Gupta, spokesperson of Rajiv Gandhi Superspeciality Hospital.
Delhi has around 2.25 lakh healthcare workers and nearly six lakh frontline workers. Till Thursday morning, Delhi had vaccinated more than 81,000 healthcare workers.