Phase 3 of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in India is all set to begin from May 1, under which all people aged above 18 years would be eligible to get themselves vaccinated.
While this is a powerful step to curb the havoc being presently unleashed by the Coronavirus in the country, there are several looming questions that could hamper the success of this program and weaken the fight against COVID-19.
Dr Rahul Pandit, Director-Critical Care, Fortis Hospitals Mumbai and member of Maharashtra’s COVID Taskforce, answers some FAQs about the vaccine.
He says, "Vaccination is the most effective tool to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and help us succeed in our mission to restore normalcy. Having said that, the COVID19 vaccination drive in India has seen much momentum since Day 1. With an enthusiastic push from the civic bodies, we are slowly but steadily approaching our target goals."
Here’s his ready-reckoner to help proceed with vaccinating yourself and your loved ones:
1. All adults should take the COVID-19 vaccine and encourage others to take it as well.
2. You should have had your meals, and be well hydrated for your vaccination.
3. Only people who have an Anaphylaxis (allergic reaction) to any of the vaccine contents, should NOT take the vaccine. So, please consult with your doctor to confirm your eligibility to avoid complications.
4. All approved vaccines including Covishield and Covaxin have:
100% efficacy in preventing death due to COVID-19
Very high efficacy against severe COVID-19
High to moderate efficacy (60 per cent-95 per cent) against symptomatic COVID-19
Poor efficacy only against asymptomatic COVID-19.
5. Vaccinating the high-risk vulnerable population - above 60 years and above 45 years with co-morbidities will bring down the mortality rate to ‘very low’, as currently, this group forms almost 90 per cent of patients who succumb to the disease. Therefore, we must encourage people in these age groups to be vaccinated.
6. People with previous COVID-19 infection should take the vaccine only after 8-12 weeks of recovery.
7. A person who has received Plasma Therapy to treat a previous COVID-19 infection should wait for 8-12 weeks before taking the vaccine.
8. Vaccine is safe in patients with Hypertension, Diabetes, Renal Failure, and Heart Disease, amongst those who have undergone bypass, post-Angiography, and those on Dialysis.
9. The vaccine is advisable for pregnant women ONLY if the benefit outweighs the risks of the vaccine. For instance, a frontline pregnant worker should take the vaccine.
10. There is no data on how long pregnancy should be avoided post-vaccination. However, as it is an inactivated or dead virus it should be safe after 6-8 weeks of vaccination to conceive.
11. Those prone to food allergy, drug allergy (other than the vaccine components) and common allergic conditions such as Asthma, Allergic Rhinitis and Allergic Dermatitis can take the vaccine but must consult their doctor before enrolling.
12. People on anti-platelet agents such as Aspirin and Clopidogrel should take the COVID-19 vaccine without stopping their medication.
13. Patients on blood thinners like Warfarin or newer anticoagulation agents have a small risk of injection site swelling. Patients who are on these newer agents can skip their morning dose, take the vaccine and continue the next regular dose.
14. Patients with neurological complications such as Stroke, Parkinson’s, Dementia should take the vaccine as it is safe for them.
15. Patients on immunosuppressant’s (i.e. patients who’ve undergone organ transplants) of any type can safely take the vaccine. However, the immune response may not be complete. Check with your doctor before enrolling.
16. It is false that alcohol is not allowed post-vaccine or that vaccine causes impotency or that vaccine will change the DNA of a person.
17. There are currently no trials available on children, hence vaccination for those below 18years of age can be delayed for now.
18. Patients with Cancer and those undergoing Chemotherapy should consult their doctor and seek an appropriate window for vaccination between the Chemotherapy cycles. Ideally, the patient should wait for at least 4weeks post-chemotherapy to take their vaccine.
19. Fever, body ache, dizziness, headaches are common symptoms post-vaccination.
20. A simple Paracetamol can be taken post-vaccination if required, and most symptoms would be well controlled.
Dr Pandit adds, "Do not believe in rumours, the best way to get the right information is to speak to doctors at medical centres who are offering the COVID-19 vaccination. Remember, vaccine-induced immunity is as important as herd immunity. It is the current and the only way to tackle the growing menace of the virus. Let’s all come together to fight back and end the pandemic once and for all."