Last Saturday, the government of India started the world’s largest inoculation drive in the world to bring the Coronavirus pandemic under control. However, no sooner than the drive started the mainstream media with its sensational style of reporting begun disparaging the Indian vaccine. And since then, the continuous 24-hour anti-vaccine propaganda has managed to push the people from taking the vaccine, fearing its adverse effects.
According to news reports, health officials in six states viz. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Bihar and Assam, have raised concerns over the low turnout for the COVID-19 vaccine. The vials can be used within four hours once they get opened. And, if people do not volunteer to receive the vaccine, the doses are wasted.
By 6 pm on Wednesday, 786,842 people were vaccinated in the 14,119 sessions held since the launch of the vaccination drive on January 16, as per the Union Health Ministry dashboard. However, this accounted for a coverage rate of 55 per cent — per day. 100 people are expected to turn up per session. However, the turnout rate remained almost half.
“Please understand there is a big clamour for COVID-19 vaccines globally. On the other hand, here in our country, we have developed two vaccines on our own and people are shunning them. This is very sad,” said a disappointed VK Paul, Chairman of National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) whilst addressing the media.
The Union Health Minister had to come up with a press conference where he had to clear doubts regarding the safety of the vaccine, planted by the mainstream media.
“The vaccines- Covaxin and Covishield are safe to use. The so-called side-effects are normal to any vaccination process. Many of us can recall that while getting vaccinated, we used to get a swelling and mild fewer after it. Thus, it is completely normal,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Reported by TFI, it was NDTV and its Harvard alumni journalists leading the charge of creating an environment of paranoia and psychosis, when it dedicated a full section on its airtime to highlight the one or two odd cases that prop up whenever someone takes a vaccine. And even in one of the cases where the reporter talked to a patient, he accepted he had forgotten to take his blood pressure medicine in the morning, before taking the vaccine.
NDTV has posted video with title
"Corona Vaccine लगवाने के बाद स्वास्थ्य कर्मी की बिगड़ी तबीयत"
In the video, the man says (in Hindi) : I had forgotten to take my blood pressure medicine, so I felt uneasy and got admitted. Everyone should take the vaccine.
Cheer up, NDTV!
— Abhishek (@AbhishBanerj) January 17, 2021
There's a class of foreigners who want India to fail. And while I don't like it, I understand it.
There's also class of Indians that want India to fail. And that's the part I simply don't get. Spiritual vacuum? Self loathing? Deracination? Money? What explains it?
— Smita Barooah (@smitabarooah) January 18, 2021
52 people exhibit adverse events after receiving COVID vaccine in Delhi
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) January 16, 2021
Reported by TFI previously, the news of a man dying, who was a part of the phase III trials of Bharat Biotech vaccine was also blown out of proportion when the autopsy report confirmed that he died of cardiorespiratory issues, not the COVID-19 vaccine if he was even given one.
While the media has played its part to spoil the ambitious drive of the government, it is the high-profile political leaders who are more focused on pushing their political agendas, rather than helping the public. Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party Chief and former CM of Uttar Pradesh, had called the two COVID-19 vaccines “BJP’s vaccine”. He also denied the existence of the pandemic and said, ‘Where is the pandemic?”
The media should introspect and try to formulate and abide by clear guidelines on how to report when a mass-vaccination drive is being carried out. People are prone to hysteria, rumour-mongering, and misinformation, and therefore, instead of gaining some quick clicks and TRP, media should act responsibly.