Vaccination Against COVID 19
The COVID-19 vaccines produce protection against the disease, as a result of developing an immune response to the SARS-Cov-2 virus. Developing immunity through vaccination means there is a reduced risk of developing the illness and its consequences. This immunity helps you fight the virus if exposed. Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, because if you are protected from getting infected and from disease, you are less likely to infect someone else.
Which vaccines are available in India?
Two vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) in India are Covishield® (AstraZeneca's vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin® (manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited).
Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 developed by Russia's Gamaleya National Center will be available in India markets very soon. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines might soon make its way to India.
Who should get vaccinated?
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people 18 years and older, including those with pre-existing conditions of any kind, including auto-immune disorders. These conditions include: hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver and kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled.
Who should not take vaccination?
There are certain condition when it is suggested to avoid taking vaccination for COVID 19 infection. A person with history of allergic reaction to a previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine should not take next dose of vaccine. Any immediate or delayed-onset allergic reactions to any other vaccines, medications or food items should also avoid getting vaccination.
Any person who is very sick or hospitalized (with or without intensive care) patients due to any illness are not advised to get vaccinated till they are better. In this conditions, COVID-19 vaccination is to be deferred for 4-8 weeks after recovery
Women who are pregnant or not sure of their pregnancy & Lactation (breast feeding) should not receive COVID-19 vaccine at this time.
What are the medical condition where you need to be caution before getting vaccinated?
The Health Ministry has advised caution in vaccinating persons with a history of bleeding or coagulation disorder and immunity issues. There are a few bleeding disorders like 'haemophilia'. These persons should take the vaccine under the supervision of their treating physician.
Immune issues are of two types: one, immunosuppression due to any disease such as AIDS, and people on immunosuppressant drugs such as anti-cancer drugs, steroids, etc. Second, immunodeficiency in people who suffers from some defect in the body's protective system such as congenital immunodeficiency. Currently, available COVID-19 vaccines do not have any live virus and therefore individuals with immune issues can have the vaccine safely. But the vaccine may not be as effective in them. One should inform the vaccinator about the medicines they consume and if they are suffering from any known immune issues. The vaccinator should have a record of one’s medical condition.
Should you get vaccination even after recovering from COVID infection?
It is advisable to receive complete schedule of COVID-19 vaccine irrespective of past history of infection with COVID-19. This will help in developing a strong immune response against the disease. Development of immunity or duration of protection after COVID-19 exposure is not established therefore it is recommended to receive vaccine even after COVID-19 infection. Wait for 4-8 weeks after recovery from COVID symptoms before getting the vaccine.
What to do if I develop COVID 19 infection after first dose of Vaccine?
If you develop COVID 19 infection after first dose of vaccination then you should wait at least 4-8 weeks after recovery before you take the second dose.
What are side effects of COVID-19 Vaccine?
Few side effects which you may experience after getting a COVID-19 vaccine are normal signs that your body is building protection. These side effects should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects.
Common Side Effects on the arm where you got the shot are Pain, Redness and Swelling. You may also feel Tiredness, Headache, Muscle pain, Chills, Fever and Nausea.
You can take over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, for any pain and discomfort you may experience after getting vaccinated.
You should consult doctor if the redness or tenderness where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours or your side effects are worsening and not getting better after few days.
How long it takes to develop immunity after vaccination?
Vaccination protects you from getting seriously ill and dying from COVID-19. For the first fourteen days after getting a vaccination, you do not have significant levels of protection, then it increases gradually. For a single dose vaccine, immunity will generally occur two weeks after vaccination. For two-dose vaccines, both doses are needed to achieve the highest level of immunity possible.
Do I have to take all preventive precautions even after getting vaccinated?
While a COVID-19 vaccine will protect you from serious illness and death, we still don’t know the extent to which it keeps you from being infected and passing the virus on to others. To help keep others safe, continue to maintain at least a 1-metre distance from others, cover a cough or sneeze in your elbow, clean your hands frequently and wear a mask, particularly in enclosed, crowded or poorly ventilated spaces. Always follow guidance from local authorities based on the situation and risk where you live.
Do the vaccines protect against variants?
The COVID-19 vaccines are expected to provide at least some protection against new virus variants and are effective at preventing serious illness and death. That’s because these vaccines create a broad immune response, and any virus changes or mutations should not make vaccines completely ineffective. If any of these vaccines become less effective against one or more variants, it will be possible to change the composition of the vaccines to protect against these variants. Data continues to be collected and analysed on new variants of the COVID-19 virus.
Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause a positive test result for the disease, such as for a PCR or antigen test ?
The COVID-19 vaccine will not cause a positive test result for a COVID-19 PCR or antigen laboratory test. This is because the tests check for active disease and not whether an individual is immune or not. However, because the COVID-19 vaccine prompts an immune response, it may be possible to test positive in an antibody (serology) test that measures COVID-19 immunity in an individual.
Is the vaccine safe for children?
Vaccines are usually tested in adults first, to avoid exposing children who are still developing and growing. COVID-19 has also been a more serious and dangerous disease among older populations. Now that the vaccines have been determined to be safe for adults, they are being studied in children. Once those studies have been completed, we should know more and guidelines will be developed.
In the meantime, make sure children continue to physical distance from others, clean their hands frequently, sneeze and cough into their elbow and wear a mask if age appropriate.
What precautions I need to take after receiving the vaccine?
Both the vaccines are safe but in case of any discomfort or complaint, ask the beneficiary to visit the nearest health facility and/or call the health worker whose phone number is given in the Co-WIN SMS received after vaccination.
Dr Rahul Gupta, MD (Medicine)
Senior Consultant Physician
Swastik Medical Centre