ASHA worker dies in Andhra, family alleges adverse event due to COVID-19 vaccine

Hospital authorities, however, have said that Vijayalakshmi died due to a brain stroke.
ASHA worker Vijayalakshmi
ASHA worker Vijayalakshmi
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An ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) worker named Vijayalakshmi died in the Government General Hospital in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, on Sunday. While hospital authorities said that she suffered a brain stroke, her fellow workers and family have expressed apprehensions that she died days after she was given the COVID-19 vaccine. However, government officials have said that the exact cause of death will only be known after the post mortem.

Vijayalakshmi, who was 42, worked as an ASHA in Tadepalli. Her son Sharath told the media that she was healthy before she was given the vaccine on Wednesday, January 20, at the Tadepalli PHC (Primary Health Centre). “She was fine on Wednesday. On Thursday, she said she felt tired, and went to sleep at night saying she was feeling dizzy. Later around 2 am, she got a fever, her blood pressure went down and her condition worsened. Private hospitals refused to admit her, saying it could be an adverse event from the vaccine and told us to go to Guntur GGH.” 

Sharath also alleged that since his mother was admitted to the GGH, hospital authorities did not communicate her health status and treatment details to her kin properly, until they held an agitation. 

Vijayalakshmi’s family members have alleged that the COVID-19 vaccine had an adverse effect on her, stating that she was healthy and energetic before taking the vaccine, and did not have any other health complications. 

Guntur district Collector Samuel Anand said the exact cause of the ASHA worker's death would be revealed only after a post-mortem. He also maintained that not a single Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) was reported in Guntur district and that 10,099 healthcare staff were vaccinated in the first eight days. Experts have said that side-effects are natural when it comes to any kind of vaccine that has biological components, not just COVID-19 vaccines. According to the ministry, over 1,110 cases of adverse effect after vaccination (AEFI) have been reported till now. As of Sunday, 15,82,201 people have been vaccinated across the country.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, following Vijayalakshmi’s death, a group of ASHA workers staged a demonstration in front of the GGH demanding that a compensation of Rs 50 lakh be paid to the deceased's family. A leader of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) who led the protest argued with the district Collector when he visited the hospital to console the family members of the deceased, demanding compensation. 

Watch: ASHA workers protest at Guntur Government General Hospital seeking compensation for Vijayalakshmi

The Collector said he would send a proposal to the state government for payment of compensation to the ASHA worker's kin, on the lines of that paid to frontline health workers who succumbed to COVID-19, according to PTI. He also reportedly promised a house site under a government housing scheme, besides a job to an eligible member of the family.

Telangana is also probing a similar incident in Warangal. A 45-year-old female healthcare worker who was vaccinated on Tuesday in New Shayampeta of Warangal Urban district, passed away in the early hours of Sunday. A statement from the Telangana Director of Public Health and Family Welfare said that the Warangal Urban district AEFI (Adverse Events Following Immunisation) committee will submit its report on the incident to the Telangana state AEFI committee, which will in turn furnish its report to the Central AEFI committee.

With inputs from PTI 

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