Sameer Kumar, a food delivery agent in the national capital, has still not taken the jab despite regular reminders from his employer. “I have heard that it makes you terribly sick,” said Kumar. “Nobody back in my village has taken it for the same reason.”
(This story originally appeared inon Jul 03, 2021)Sameer Kumar, a food delivery agent in the national capital, has still not taken the jab despite regular reminders from his employer. “I have heard that it makes you terribly sick,” said Kumar. “Nobody back in my village has taken it for the same reason.”
People like Kumar have India Inc worried. Stoked by rumours, superstition and fear, vaccine hesitancy is keeping a large swathe of the working population out of inoculation drives. But vaccinations, said industry experts, are crucial to help sustain the economic recovery which is under way.
“We are on an overdrive to get all our service professionals vaccinated. But there is always that 20% that suffer from vaccine hesitancy,” Abhiraj Singh Bhal, co-founder and CEO at gig marketplace Urban Company, told TOI.
Several store and factory staff at Titan’s jewellery division in Tamil Nadu displayed similar behaviour. “We have done two rounds of communications saying that they cannot put others at risk, and we cannot permit them to serve in stores,” said Ajoy Chawla, CEO, jewellery division at Titan.
Companies such as Hinduja Global Solutions and Hitachi ABB Power Grids, too, are grappling with the same challenge. Out of 8,000 employees of the former, only 2,500 are in favour of vaccinations, showed a survey. “While we have rolled out vaccination drives, vaccine hesitancy took me by surprise,” Partha De Sarkar, CEO at Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS), told TOI.
Companies, however, have adopted a carrot-and-stick approach to tackle the problem. While Hinduja Global Solutions has made vaccinations mandatory for employees, Hitachi ABB Power Grids is conducting training sessions and workshops to get employees to opt for the jab.
“The pandemic has led to significant increase in demand of e-commerce and, to ensure that this opportunity is not missed out, it is critical for players like Zomato and Flipkart to get the supply chain staff vaccinated asap,” said Himanshu Bajaj, partner, Asia-Pacific lead, consumer and retail at Kearney. “Similarly, one key impact for consumer-packaged goods players was around supply chain disruption, including in manufacturing and distribution, and here again vaccination is key.”
A Zomato spokesperson said it has vaccinated around 63% of its 1.5-lakh delivery force and the company is covering the cost. Flipkart, too, is doling out free vaccines along with free ‘doctor on call’ services for its frontline workers, while Swiss food and beverage companyNestleNSE -0.25 % has partnered with local health authorities to set up camps across manufacturing locations and offices.