June 9, 2021
Prevention is better than cure.
Never in the history of mankind, have we witnessed a disease which has threatened the very existence of human-beings. COVID-19 has unleashed a fury of suffering and death. In combating this deadly virus, vaccine is a potent weapon. We are all aware that there are several vaccines against COVID-19. They are Covishield, COVAXIN, ZyCoV-D, Sputinik, Biological E’s novel Covid-19 vaccine, BBV-154 intranasal vaccine, COVOVAX and mRNA based vaccine (HCG019). Some of them are available for use while some of them are still under trials.
1. Who should get the COVID-19 vaccine?
In India, as of now, all adults above 18 years of age should get vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccine is safe in people with health problems like diabetes, hypertension, asthma and other lung disease, kidney and liver disease, chronic infection, and autoimmune disease.
They are also considered safe in women who are lactating i.e breast-feeding. However, those with severe form of allergies and pregnant women need to consult their doctor before considering a vaccine.
2. Can vaccines be taken during the menstrual periods?
Yes, definitely. Vaccines can be taken during menstrual periods.
3. What about vaccination in individuals less than 18 years of age and children?
The safety in children and individuals below 18 years of age is still under trial in our country. Drugs or vaccines are usually tested first in adults, to avoid exposing children. As the vaccines are safe in adults, they are now being tested in children. Till the results of these trials are available, ensure children continue wearing mask, clean their hands frequently and follow social distancing.
4. Can I take the 2nd dose of a different vaccine than the 1st dose?
No. Two doses of the same vaccine must be taken. Currently, there is no enough evidence on interchangeability of vaccine types.
5. After vaccination, can I still get COVID-19?
Yes, you can still get COVID-19 after vaccination but it will generally be a mild form. Vaccination protects against severe disease and death from COVID-19. The protection offered by the vaccine starts about 2 weeks after the second dose.
6. Can I stop taking precautions after being vaccinated?
No. Continue to wear a mask and maintain distance and follow the guidelines given by authorities, in view of safety of everyone.
7. Will the vaccine result in a positive PCR or antigen test for COVID-19?
No, vaccination does not give a positive test.
8. Should I take a vaccine if I had COVID-19 in the past?
Yes, you must take the vaccine even if you had COVID-19 in the past. This is so because we do not know how long the natural immunity against COVID-19 will last following infection. Also, the immune response varies from one individual to another. So, please take the vaccine even if you had COVID in the past, after the period defined in the guidelines.
9. Do the vaccines protect us from the variants of virus?
Yes, the vaccines are expected to give some protection against new virus strains also and prevent us from serious illness and death. These vaccines bring about a broad immune response that does not significantly reduce their efficacy against variant viruses.
10. How do these vaccines act?
In simple words, vaccines work by preparing and training our immune system to recognise and fight off the viruses or bacteria which they target. After vaccination, if our body is exposed to these disease-causing organisms, the body’s immune system is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing serious illness.
11. Will these vaccines provide long-term protection?
It is too early to know this because studies are still going on. However, there is good data that suggests that there is some period of protection from re-infection following the disease.
12. What should I do after getting vaccinated? What are the side-effects?
Stay at the place of vaccination for at least 15 to 30 minutes under observation by health care workers. Check when you should go for the second dose. Generally, there are no side-effects. Rarely minor side effects like arm soreness, mild fever, tiredness, headaches, muscle or joint aches may develop. You need to contact your care provider if the symptoms do not subside in a few days or if they increase in intensity.
As this disease is new, we are all learning more and more about it. We must do all things possible to stop its spread. We must wear mask, maintain distance, avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places, cover a cough or sneeze, and stay healthy. This is the new normal.
Vaccine is our potent weapon in this battle against the deadly COVID-19 virus. Go, get yourselves armed with the vaccine.
Sources: WHO and ICMR guidelines.