NCP MLA Saleng Sangma

Shillong: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Saleng Sangma has questioned whether doctors hesitant to take the Covid-19 vaccine are “in their normal state of mind”.

He asked this question during question hour of the Budget Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly on Monday.

Mawsynram MLA Himalaya Shangpliang had raised a question concerning the hesitancy witnessed among the state’s healthcare workers (HCW) especially in government hospitals.

MLA Saleng Sangma said if doctors and HCW are hesitant to take the vaccine, how are they able to educate the patients to take the vaccine. “The HCW are under counselling which means they are not in their normal state of mind…So if they are not in their state of mind, will they still be working as a HCW?” asked Sangma.

Adding that “since they are under counselling”, the MLA said they should then be on leave.

State Health Minister James Sangma clarified that counselling does not necessarily mean that it is because of specific/certain distress of mental issues. 

“It is a large area and, in this regard, it is specifically to dispel certain kinds of myths that people have about vaccination and its ill effects. Counselling is to convince them that vaccine is for their benefit. It doesn’t mean that the doctors are facing any kind of mental issues as the honourable member suggested,” stated the health minister.

Reassuring the NCP MLA that the doctors and HCW are very much capable to carry-out their duties, the health minister reiterated that counselling simply means “reassuring and convincing them” that the vaccine is required for their own benefit.

The health minister also clarified that one of the reasons why doctors aren’t able to take the vaccine could be because they tested positive for COVID-19 and it requires a certain period of time before they can again take the vaccine.

The NCP MLA said, “How do these doctors convince patients to take the vaccine because they themselves have that psychology disorder? They need to be addressed and there should be a different approach for these doctors and HCW.”

According to the health minister, counselling has been carried out since April and June last year and there is less than 1% of doctors who haven’t taken the vaccine.

“It is an ongoing process and our aim is to achieve 100% (vaccination),” said James Sangma.

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