AiMeD urges centre to include medical device manufacturing employees in vaccination priority list of frontline workers

A similar appeal was made by The All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD)

The Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) has urged the Central government to include medical device manufacturing employees in the vaccination priority list of frontline workers.

In this regard, Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator, AiMeD, wrote a letter to Dr VK Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog, who is also the Chairman of the Nation Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC), for inclusion of medical device manufacturers employees/ancillaries and distribution chains in the list of frontline workers and be vaccinated on priority saying they worked through the epidemic despite facing an enhanced risk of infection, or, at the very least, allow such expenses to be included in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

As the government has given a go ahead for corporates to vaccinate their employees, it is also essential for the employees working in the medical manufacturing field to get vaccinated free of cost, as they have been working to support the medical industry during these tough times without taking leaves.

Speaking about the issue, Nath said, “Medical devices and pharmaceutical industry and distribution and retail supply chain is considered an essential product and services, and also the groceries and kirana shops and employees. We can also relax at home and our employees can take a two-to-four week break, but there is risk going out to work daily for the past over 14 months, but even then they are not in any Central or state government priority list of vaccination to ensure protecting those who help protect public. Young biomedical engineers commission and maintain ventilators, etc. in COVID ICU wards without vaccination protection. Similarly, for journalists, ground staff of airlines and air hostess, hotel/hospitals receptionist, etc, they need to be on a priority list as these are potential super spreaders and have to risk working in the field.”

A similar appeal was made by The All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD). It said yesterday that their appeals to the Centre to include their staff members into priority populations such as frontline workers have remained unheeded.

Nath also said the Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Ministry had in February written to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) seeking action on association’s request that the medical device industry employees be included in the vaccination priority list.

“Our employees play a critical role in the supply chain for medical devices — they need to be protected on priority. Otherwise, if they fall ill, there could be supply chain disruptions, leading to localised shortages of items such as oxygen masks, syringes and intravenous sets,” Nath added.

Anecdotal accounts of COVID-19 deaths among members of the device supply chain network already pointed to possible localised disruptions in supplies, according to him.

More than 900,000 chemists across India have threatened to down shutters if their employees are not given COVID-19 vaccines on priority similar to healthcare and frontline workers such as security personnel.

“Meanwhile, employees fall ill as they have not been vaccinated, and production losses and supply chain disruptions are there leading to localised shortages in some cities. Today, there are shortages of oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators. Tomorrow, it may be for oxygen masks, IV sets and basics like syringes. Is firefighting the only way or threatening to shut down, as announced by the chemists association, or we should be focussed on preventive measures and management of limited resources by prioritised access that no one will question as being unjustified.”

“We do understand that vaccine supplies are limited and the need to prioritise access comes when resources are limited and as current status is leading to free-for-all chaos, it is, may be time to reset the vaccination access policy,” Nath urged.

AIMEDDr VK Paulfrontline workershealthcare workersmedical devicesNITI AayogRajiv Nath
Comments (0)
Add Comment