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Frontline workers in Telangana vulnerable due to lack of booster shots, protocols

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Lack of booster shots and proper infection control protocols in hospitals for healthcare and frontline workers could have serious implications, note experts from the state. 

This caution came after a senior cancer specialist from a corporate hospital tested positive with the Omicron variant despite having received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

The worry now is that with one year passing since most of the frontline workers received their first dose, the acquired immunity is likely lost, and they are all virtually defenseless to fight a new infection.

“Boosters are needed as unless healthcare workers are protected, the entire healthcare system could collapse in case of a wave. So far, in every wave of infection, the first to be infected were healthcare workers. If they all go into isolation then the workload would be immense for others, worsening the situation,” explained Dr. BN Reddy, Indian Medical Association (Telangana). Doctors also worry that exposure to the virus would leave their patients infected and affected. 

“Not only will common public suffer from infections, they will also suffer because all HCWs too would be infected and quarantined,” explained Dr. MSS Mukharjee, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Medicover and former IMA President (Kukatpaly Chapter).

In light of this, boosters are crucial, along with newer infection control protocols. “Infection control with Omicron can’t be the same as during Delta and Alpha. Omicron variant spreads much faster and can infect many more and so there should be a mandate that all healthcare workers must wear an N95 mask and ensure it is correctly worn,” Dr. Mukharjee said.

He added that weekly testing regimes should be reintroduced in all hospitals to ensure, any new infection is identified and isolated before it could infect others.

“The Indian Medical Association (IMA) is planning to take this issue up at a national level in light of wave predicted for February,” added Dr. Reddy.

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