Getting vaccinated is a safer way to help build protection against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It can keep you from contracting the disease by creating an antibody response in your body without you having to become infected with the novel coronavirus. COVID-19 vaccination might also prevent you from getting COVID-19, or, if you contract the virus, the vaccine might prevent you from becoming seriously ill or from developing serious complications.
There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, although the disease can cause severe complications and lead to death in some people. A vaccine might also help protect people around you from the disease - especially those at increased risk of severe illness from the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. The combination of getting vaccinated and strictly adhering to the COVID-19 safety guidelines, including wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and social distancing, will offer the best protection from the dreaded virus.
What to expect before the vaccination:
What does trial mode mean for a vaccine recipient?
The way we do in a clinical trial phase: first, the recipient will be asked to give a written consent. Additionally, the recipient will be followed up actively to see if the vaccine has led to any side effects. In short, it will be an extension of the Phase 3 trial. But in this, the person would know that he or she has received the vaccine, and not the placebo. It is completely voluntary.
What is the safety and efficacy of the vaccines used in the country?
To ensure that a vaccine is safe, we need to try it on a large number of people. The vaccine developers have not reduced the sample size at any stage of clinical trials rather it was bigger than what we usually test a vaccine on.
When a vaccine is tested, most of the adverse events or unwanted effects, if any, occur in the first four to six weeks of its administration. So, in order to ensure that it is safe, we keep a close watch, for the first two-three months, on the people it has been given to. This data help us decide if a vaccine is safe. All concerned in the line of vaccine development, testing and evaluation have followed these procedures to the T. Both Indian vaccines are considered safe on this yardstick.
As for the efficacy of the vaccine, we need time to tell how effective a vaccine is. All the global agencies have set the benchmark that only those vaccine candidates which show an efficacy of at least 50-60% will be considered. Most of the vaccines have shown an efficacy of 70-90% within the short period of two to three months of observation. Besides when a vaccine is given an emergency use authorizations/permission for restricted use, as in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine, the trial follow-up continues for one-two years to assess the total duration of protection the vaccine will provide.
Which vaccine is better between Covisheild and Covaxin?
There is no head-to-head comparison done between the two vaccines being used in India so one cannot choose one over the other. Both would work fine in preventing the infection as well as prevent a person from going into a severe state of the disease. As a long-term effect, it would be preventing death for elderly people or those who have comorbidities.
What medications should be avoided before taking COVID-19 vaccine and for how long?
Currently, there is no such instruction. One can take one’s regular medication uninterruptedly. Just inform the vaccinator about the medicines you consume.
Is the vaccine contraindicated in person with chronic diseases?
Chronic diseases and morbidities like the cardiac, neurological, pulmonary, metabolic, renal and malignancies etc. are not contraindicated. In fact, the benefit of COVID-19 vaccines to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 disease and death is for those who have these comorbidities.
If one is taking medicines for illnesses like Cancer, Diabetes, Hypertension etc, can s/he take the COVID-19 vaccine and/or If I suffer from HTN/DM/CKD/heart disease/lipid disorders etc., can I safely take this vaccine?
Yes, persons with one or more of these comorbid conditions are considered among the high risk category. They need to get COVID-19 vaccination. Overall, the vaccine is safe and efficacious in adults with comorbidity. The maximum benefit of getting the COVID-19 vaccine is for those who have such co-morbidities. However, if you are concerned for any specific reason, please consult your doctor.
What to expect after the vaccination:
Do I need to use the mask/other COVID-19 appropriate precautions after receiving the vaccine?
Yes, it is absolutely necessary that everyone who has received the COVID-19 vaccine should continue to follow the COVID-19 appropriate behaviour i.e., mask, do gaj ki doori and hand sanitization to protect themselves and those around from spreading the infection.
How long will I remain protected after vaccination?
Longevity of the immune response in vaccinated individuals is yet to be determined. Hence, continuing the use of masks, handwashing, physical distancing and other COVID-19 appropriate behaviours is strongly recommended.
Does vaccination protect me against newer strains / mutated virus of SARS-CoV 2?
The body responds to vaccination by making more than one type of antibodies to virus parts including spike protein. Therefore, all vaccines are expected to provide a reasonable amount of protection against the mutated virus also. Based on the available data the mutations as reported are unlikely to make the vaccine ineffective.
In how many days will the vaccination create an adequate immune response and protection?
Adequate immune response takes 2-3 weeks after completion of the entire vaccination schedule i.e., after the second dose of COVISHIELD® and COVAXIN®.
Should you avoid alcohol after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
As per experts, there is no evidence of alcohol impairing the effectiveness of the vaccine.
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.
Is it important for me to receive the same vaccine during second dose?
As the vaccines available are not interchangeable, it is important to receive the second dose of same vaccine as the first one. The Co-WIN portal is also going to help to ensure that everyone receives the same vaccine.
Does this vaccine provide herd immunity?
When an increasing number of people get vaccinated in the community, indirect protection through herd immunity develops. The percentage of people who need to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease. For example, its 95% for measles, however the proportion of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity is not known.