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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
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Vexed Over Vax

Salaries are getting docked for dodging the Covid-19 vaccine in Odisha! Rather, Cuttack. It has nearly 30,000 healthcare personnel but only 57% have taken the jab.

Vexed Over Vax
Vexed Over Vax
outlookindia.com
2021-02-12T12:56:18+05:30

Salaries of government staff are withheld for ­various reasons, including insubordination, indiscipline and ­dereliction of duty. But this was perhaps the first time ­salaries were sought to be blocked for not taking a vaccine shot. On February 5, the Cuttack district administration wrote to the SCB Medical College, the Cuttack ­Municipal Corporation commissioner, the Cuttack chief district medical officer and the district social welfare ­officer, among others, urging them to ­withhold the February salaries of healthcare workers and ­anganwadi workers who fail to turn up for Covid vaccination by February 10. “As the percentage of vaccination in Cuttack is among the lowest in the state, it is causing great embarrassment,” district ­collector Bhabani Shankar Chayani wrote in the letter. While Covid vaccine coverage in Odisha (74.4%) has been one of the highest in India, it has been the lowest in Cuttack (57.5%) among all 30 districts. Ironically, Cuttack has the highest number of ­registered healthcare workers (29,624).  

The order predictably caused a furore among healthcare workers and doctors. Human rights activists said ­vaccination should be voluntary. Concerned at the adverse fallout, the collector withdrew the order barely 24 hours after issuing it. “After discussing the issue threadbare, we have modified the order. We will now form teams to contact every person who has registered for vaccination and ­monitor the progress,” he said.

Health secretary Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra indirectly endorses the district administration’s unusual move. “While vaccination is voluntary, if one registers for it, it denotes willingness to be vaccinated. The whole ­vaccination process is planned keeping this in mind. If someone doesn’t turn up after registering, it upsets...

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