Journal of Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year
: 2022  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 157--158

Preventing COVID-19 breakthrough infection in the healthcare workforce in institutions


Abhijit V Boratne, Amrit Mishra 
 Department of Community Medicine, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Amrit Mishra
Department of Community Medicine, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Puducherry - 607 403
India




How to cite this article:
Boratne AV, Mishra A. Preventing COVID-19 breakthrough infection in the healthcare workforce in institutions.J NTR Univ Health Sci 2022;11:157-158


How to cite this URL:
Boratne AV, Mishra A. Preventing COVID-19 breakthrough infection in the healthcare workforce in institutions. J NTR Univ Health Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 5 ];11:157-158
Available from: https://www.jdrntruhs.org/text.asp?2022/11/2/157/353219


Full Text



To the Editor,

India has been hit huge in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have effectively battled it so far by adopting various measures for the public. The role of the healthcare workforce has been indispensable towards the control of the disease. However due to the high workload, they are overwhelmed and are vulnerable to get infected.[1] Following good hygiene measures during work, segregation of COVID-19 related services, conducting vaccination sessions in well-ventilated settings, periodic disinfection of the worksites, and quarantining exposed healthcare workers as per guidelines have been quite effective in breaking the chain of transmission. To ensure further safety, it has also been advocated to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza vaccine and other recommended vaccines.[2]

As there is no cure for COVID-19 yet, it is quintessential that the healthcare workers must get vaccinated as per guidelines at the earliest. It is quite sad that many healthcare workers have succumbed to the COVID-19 infection and secondary opportunistic infections. But a part of the community is still hesitant to get vaccinated. Although the vaccination drive for COVID-19 in India began on January 16, 2021, the fight against the pandemic lags behind as the vaccination coverage among the healthcare workforce was only around 37% as of April, 2021. If such hesitancy is present, it will be quite difficult to recommend vaccination to society at large.[3] In addition to these woes, the present gap between the two doses of the Covishield vaccine has been extended to 12–16 weeks amidst vaccine shortage. This might create a lacuna in the protection of the healthcare workers if they have not received their second dose of the vaccine in time.[4]

A million-dollar question in everyone's mind in the health sector is whether relying on vaccination alone ensures total safety. Of course not! The healthcare workforce must be made aware that the vaccine only prevents severe disease and death and the prospect of a “breakthrough infection” is quite probable. A breakthrough infection is when a person gets infected with a disease even after getting vaccinated against that specific disease, implying that the infection has broken through the vaccine's protection. In India, the incidence of such cases with respect to COVID-19 has remained low.[5] But we have to be wary before it becomes a threatening issue.

Hence, to protect the vulnerable healthcare workers, their work schedule can be regulated at an institutional level as per the age group. This would involve allotting COVID-19 related duties to the young and healthy healthcare workers fully vaccinated and limiting the involvement of the elderly healthcare workers who are fully or partially vaccinated, with or without co-morbidities, to academic training and supervision responsibilities.

Being in the center of the battle against the pandemic, the healthcare workers are vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, with or without vaccination. It is the duty of the institutions and the government to ensure their safety, so that they can provide their services to the grieving public in the time of need.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Corona virus disease 2019 pandemic: Encouraging involvement of community workers in the active search of cases. MAMC J Med Sci 2020;6:39-40.
2Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Ensuring safe delivery of immunization services amidst Corona virus disease − 2019 pandemic. Al-Azhar Assiut Med J 2020;18:370-1.
3Dey S. Only 37% of 3 Crore Health, Frontline Workers Fully Vaccinated. 2021. Available from: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/only-37-of-3-crore-health-frontline-workers-fully-vaccinated/articleshow/82135322.cms. [Last accessed on 2021 May 12].
4Perappadan BS. Gap Between Two Doses of Covishield Extended to 12-16 Weeks, Says Government. 2021. Available from: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/gap-between-two-doses-of-covishield-extended-to-12-16-weeks-says-government/article34550655.ece. [Last accessed on 2021 May 14].
5Tyagi K, Ghosh A, Nair D, Dutta K, Bhandari PS, Ansari IA, et al. Breakthrough COVID19 infections after vaccinations in healthcare and other workers in a chronic care medical facility in New Delhi, India. Diabetes Metab Syndr 2021;15:1007-8.