After their repeated requests to be considered as essential services workers who need to be vaccinated on priority didn’t bear fruit, the All India Association of Chemists and Druggists (AIAOCD) has now threatened that its 9.40 lakh members from across the country “may anytime join the lockdown”.
J S Shinde, president, and Rajiv Singhal, general secretary of AIAOCD, said in a statement: “Despite all the danger, every chemist is continuously providing service to the country. Dispensing and distribution of medicine are just as important as the work of doctors, nurses, hospital staff and sanitisation workers. It was logical to vaccinate frontline workers but despite repeated appeals, chemists were sidelined for no reason. Since March 2020, more than 650 chemists and pharmacists have lost their lives to Covid-19 infection.”
AIAOCD in the past had written about this matter to the Niti Aayog, ministry of health and family welfare and the PMO. “We are not asking to be considered as healthcare workers but we are also serving the nation. To ensure that we continue doing this we need to be vaccinated, protected. We request the government to open special vaccination camps for us, especially for our younger workforce,” said Singhal, a pharmaceutical distributor in Indore. “If there’s no vaccination for us then we’ll join the lockdown.”
However, Assam, Goa and Kerala have organised special vaccination camps for chemists and pharmacists in the past few days.
Like chemists, medical devices manufacturers are also demanding that their workers be vaccinated. In a letter on May 20, the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AIMED) wrote to Dr Vinod Kumar Paul, member, Niti Aayog and chief, National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19, requesting “inclusion of medical device employees in the priority list of vaccination”.
Rajiv Nath, forum coordinator, AIMED, said medical devices employees are falling sick as they haven’t been vaccinated. “This is leading to production losses and supply chain disruptions leading to a localised shortage of devices,” said Nath, MD, Hindustan Syringes and Medical Devices Ltd.