After the initial rush of vaccination amid soaring COVID-19 cases, many countries are now witnessing a slump due to vaccine hesitancy. While India has not yet made its COVID-19 vaccine programme mandatory, countries like the UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, and the US have several vaccine mandates.
Individuals working in certain sectors, professions or companies have been asked to compulsorily vaccinate themselves. Restrictions have also been placed on unvaccinated individuals and the leisure activities that they can enjoy.
States, private organisations and workplaces in India are slowly beginning to follow suit. Being unvaccinated is going to cost individuals in many ways.
Many organisations, especially those in the retail or service sectors, are asking their employees to get vaccinated. For theatres, shopping malls, airlines and more, having vaccinated employees is imperative and choosing to remain unvaccinated may mean losing their job.
Several municipalities and state governments have told their employees to get vaccinated or their salaries would not be credited, even though vaccination in India remains voluntary.
In several districts like Firozabad, Ujjain and Pimpri-Chichwad in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, respectively, orders were issued regarding non-credit of salaries to the employees who failed to take their COVID-19 vaccine shots. Similar decisions to withhold salaries of unvaccinated employees were taken by the state governments of Assam, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Chhattisgarh.
Entry to restaurants, bars
While in the early days of the pandemic -- with vaccine shortages preventing an uptick in vaccination rates -- there were fewer restrictions on unvaccinated individuals, the situation has begun to change now. Industry bodies like the one in Ahmedabad have already asked hotels, bars and restaurants not to allow unvaccinated customers.
With vaccination rates improving and the staff at gyms, salons, shopping complexes and clubs being mandatorily vaccinated, the possibility of entry only to vaccinated visitors is on the cards. Business owners would rather see an uninterrupted business than risk another round of COVID-19 lockdowns.
With COVID-19 clusters still active in several parts of the country, almost all states and travel arrangements call for passengers to possess negative RT-PCR tests when they begin their journey. However, some states and jurisdictions have now begun to waive the mandatory testing if the passenger is fully vaccinated. For frequent travellers, the cost of repeated tests can quickly start to add up.
And finally ...
The biggest loss that one can suffer from being unvaccinated is death. Vaccination reduces the chances of being hospitalised due to COVID-19 and also protects against more severe symptoms. Vaccines have also been shown to be more effective at preventing death from the disease. COVID-19 related medical costs and potential costs of death cannot be underestimated, with vaccines providing the best protection against such outcomes.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)