It has been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. During this phase, a lot of things changed in everyone’s personal as well as professional lives. With the world having gone into intermittent lockdowns to arrest the spread of this virus, people have grown closer to their family members, corporate organisations have adopted remote working, people have reconnected with their hobbies, developed new skills, and much more.
With everyone adapting to the new normal, following the advised protocols, and keeping themselves as safe as they can, everything has slowly started to fall into place. And now with the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, the affirmation of a corona-free India becomes stronger. However, the various opinions and rumours around the vaccine on social media and other forums, have made a lot of people sceptical about getting vaccinated. Hence, to help you understand better, here is everything that you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The COVID-19 Vaccine in India
The COVID-19 vaccination program in India started on 16th January 2021 and prioritises the healthcare workers, frontline workers and those over the age of 60 to get vaccinated. In addition to this, people over the age of 45 with certain co-morbidities are also prioritised for the vaccination.
The Vaccines in Use
There are two vaccines available in India at present and one of them has been developed by our scientists in record time. Each of the vaccination centers can offer either of the vaccines. The vaccines in use are Covishield and Covaxin. Some of the states in India have opted for Covishield as the default vaccine and Covaxin as the buffer vaccine. Following are the details of both the vaccines that you should be aware of.
The Covishield vaccine is an Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that is being locally manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, located in Pune, which is known as the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world. The AstraZeneca is a viral vector vaccine that is based on the replication-deficient Adenovirus (a virus that causes the common cold in Chimpanzees). This vaccine is modified as required for the Coronavirus treatment and is named Covishield. On 1st January 2021, the Drug Controller General of India approved the Covishield vaccine for emergency or conditional use. The Serum Institute of India is said to produce more than 50 million doses per month.
Working of Covishield
When the patient gets the jab of the vaccine, it allows the immune system to produce antibodies and prepares to attack any coronavirus infection. The vaccine shot is given in two phases, where the second dose of the vaccine is given between 4 to 12 weeks apart from the first dose. The Covishield vaccine can be stored safely at temperatures ranging from 2° to 8° C which is the same as the temperature of a domestic refrigerator.
The other vaccine used in India is Covaxin that is developed by Bharat Biotech in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology. On 2nd January 2021, the Covaxin or the BBV152 vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 or Coronavirus was approved by the Drug Controller General of India for emergency and conditional use. It is an indigenously developed inactivated vaccine, which is synthesized using the Whole-Virion Inactivated Vero Cell technology. Since it is an inactivated vaccine, the chances of replication are unlikely, thereby making it less risky to cause pathological side-effects.
Working of Covaxin
The Covaxin is again a two-dose vaccine, where the second dose is given 28 days apart from the first dose. The vaccine is included with the immune-potentiators which are also vaccine adjuvants. These are added to the vaccine to increase and boost the immunogenicity of the vaccine. The Covaxin jab is safe as it is made of dead virus cells, making it incapable of infecting people. When the jab is given, it instructs the immune system to produce a defensive reaction by creating antibodies against the coronavirus infection.
Both the vaccines are safe for Elders; however, it is always advisable to consult the doctor beforehand for safety measures against mild side-effects.
Process of the Vaccination: The Do’s and Don’ts
Following are the things you should know or precautionary measures to be followed before and after getting the vaccine jab: –
Before Getting Vaccinated
• In case you are allergic to any medicines or medicinal drugs, make sure to inform the medical practitioner and get an all-clear from them. Go for complete blood count (CBC), C-reactive protein (CRP), and Immunoglobulin-E (IgE) tests to check if the levels are as required.
• Those who are enrolled for the vaccine jab are recommended to eat well and healthy. If any medicines are prescribed ahead of the vaccination, ensure to take them on time.
• Those with co-morbid conditions like diabetes and so on, are advised to keep the levels in check. Cancer patients, especially those undergoing chemotherapy, are strictly advised to act on medical advice.
After Getting Vaccinated
• After receiving the vaccine shot, you will be monitored at the vaccination centre to ensure immediate medical help in case of an allergic reaction and so on. You will be allowed to leave only after it is ascertained that no allergic reaction or other such issues are being faced by you.
• Mild side-effects like fever and pain are common after receiving a vaccine shot for any infection, let alone the COVID-19 one. Additionally, some may also experience fatigue and chills. These side-effects go away in a few days. Please do not panic if you experience any of the mentioned side-effects after getting the jab.
NOTE: Those who have received a blood plasma transfer or monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 treatment and those who have tested COVID-19 positive in the last two months, may delay taking a vaccine shot at present.
Important Things to Note about the Vaccine
The vaccines will help in making the immune system more reactive against any threat of coronavirus infection. Usually, after receiving the vaccination, it takes a few weeks for the human body to build the immune system required to fight the infection. This means that till the antibodies are formed, there are still chances of you contracting the virus.
Hence, it is important to ensure that you follow the safety measures even after receiving the vaccine shot. Physical distancing in public areas, face masks, frequent sanitisation of hands, and so on, must not be avoided just because you are vaccinated.
Frequently Asked Questions
Understandably, people have a lot of questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccines that are being used. So, to make it easier for you, here are the answers to some of the most asked questions regarding the vaccine:
1. Is it compulsory to get vaccinated?
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine shot is not mandatory. However, frontline workers like doctors, nurses, health officials, Defence Forces and Police Personnel etc., and senior citizens must get vaccinated without fail. For others, it is voluntary, but it is always a good idea to get the vaccine shot to ensure protection for yourself as well as limit the spread of the coronavirus infection.
2. What are the possible side-effects of the vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and has only mild and common side-effects that occur in case of any vaccine shot. Mild fever, fatigue, pain in the injected area, and so on are a few common side-effects of the vaccine. However, all the States have started making suitable arrangements, in case severe side-effects are witnessed amongst any of the vaccine recipients.
3. Can elders with co-morbid conditions take the vaccine shot?
Yes, elders with co-morbid conditions must get vaccinated. Co-morbidities like Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Cancer, and so on are considered a high-risk category. Hence, taking the vaccine shot is the right option. But please ensure to consult your doctor and get a go-ahead from him/her before receiving the jab.
4. Should elders with a history of bleeding or coagulation disorder get vaccinated?
As per the advisory released by the Health Ministry of India, it is said people with bleeding disorders like Haemophilia can get vaccinated under the strict supervision of their treating physician. Along with this, those elders who are admitted to the hospital because of the bleeding problem should get vaccinated after they are advised by their doctor. However, elders who are on blood thinners can get vaccinated while continuing with their prescribed medicines.
5. Is it possible to get vaccinated without registering with the health department?
No, registering yourself with the health department is mandatory to get the vaccine jab. After the registration, you will be notified about the vaccine session date, time, and other such details. There are provisions of walk-in vaccination centres, but even there, registration with the health department is mandatory.
If reports are to be stated then till 4th March 2021, close to 1,80,05,503 vaccine doses have been administered in India. And, with lakhs of people getting vaccinated, till today, only the common mild side-effects have been reported. Both the vaccines are safe for the elderly and senior citizens and getting vaccinated will help in boosting the immune system of their body, helping them to lead stress-free golden years ahead.
Right from helping our elderly people to engage and have a sense of community, to addressing their health issues and emergencies, we, at Emoha take care of everything because, for us, it is always #EldersFirst.