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Indian government had scheduled the third phase of vaccination from 1st May, 2021 for everyone above the age 18. Many of the states are already suffering from vaccine shortage…. How the vaccination will be provided to all the adults from tomorrow (May 1, 2021)

In January 2021, India began the largest vaccination drive in the world, inoculating healthcare, sanitation and other frontline workers in the first phase.

In the vaccination drive of the second phase, the government allowed those who were above the age of 60 as well as 45 with comorbidities to receive their shots. And later, the centre liberalised its policy and everyone who was 45 or above could get their jabs.

Last Monday, the centre had announced that it would open inoculation for everyone above the age of 18 from May 1. Now, the Phase 3 vaccination drive in the country amid the raging second wave of Covid-19 across states, most likely to hit a roadblock when it is scheduled to begin with vaccination for all adults above 18 years.

Here are a few things to know about the vaccine, and things to follow before and after COVID vaccination

COVID-19 Vaccination do's & don't
COVID-19 Vaccination do’s & don’t ( src: infographic)

Are you eligible to take the COVID Vaccine? Check it out

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, below listed people should avoid the COVID-19 vaccine-

  1. People who are acutely unwell and hospitalized patients (with or without intensive care) due to any illness are also not included.
  2. Pregnant and lactating mothers are advised to not take the COVID-19 vaccine as they have not been part of any clinical trial.
  3. Anyone who has had an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine earlier should refrain from taking the vaccine.
  4. People with allergic reactions to vaccines, pharmaceutical products, and notable food allergies are also not allowed to take the jab.
  5. Persons showing active symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection or who have had COVID-19 in the last 4-8 weeks should also avoid getting vaccinated.

Things to remember before and after vaccination

After receiving the COVID vaccine shot, stay put at the vaccination center for 30 minutes. It is to monitor any adverse event following immunization (AEFI).

Remember, it’s normal to have side effects like mild fever, pain at the injection site and body ache. This is similar to the side effects that occur post some other vaccines. These are expected to subside after some time. If the side-effects persist for a longer time, contact the vaccination centre or visit the nearest health facility. Do not initiate any self-medication and treatment.

Let’s not complicate taking a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s like any other vaccination and people might have some side-effects which are normal. Just be prepared for simple medication like Paracetamol, if required, said Dr. Ravindra M Mehta, Senior Consultant and HOD – Pulmonology and Interventional pulmonology, Apollo Specialty Hospitals Jayanagar.

There are a few bleeding disorders like ‘haemophilia’. These persons should take the vaccine under the supervision of their treating physician.

Continue following COVID precautionary measures – wear a mask, maintain social distance and practise hand hygiene. Giving out two reasons behind continuing precautions, WHO’s Dr Kate O’ Brien said,

We don’t actually have the evidence yet for using the vaccine in some age groups, children, for instance. So, for the time being, those age groups are going to continue to be at risk of both disease and infection and being able to transmit to other people. The second reason is that the vaccines are in short supply, so we don’t have enough vaccine yet out in the community to protect everybody.

Take the second dose of the vaccine as per the schedule. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHF&W), a gap of four to six weeks has to be maintained between the two doses, if taking Covaxin, whereas, in the case of Covishield, the second dose can be taken four to eight weeks after the first dose. Explaining the importance of taking both the doses, WHO’s Chief Scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan said,

The first dose actually presents this new antigen to the immune system to prime it. And the second dose is the one that really gives a boost to the immune system so that the antibody response, as well as T cell mediated response, they are very strong and they also develop a memory response, which then lasts for a long time, so that when the body sees this antigen again, this virus protein again, it knows that it needs to react quickly.

After getting the vaccine (whether the first or second dose), the vaccine one must ensure to take their vaccination certificate which can be either a hard copy or a digital copy. Vaccination and the certificate are free in government hospitals. Vaccination in private hospitals is capped at Rs. 250, and this includes the cost of the certificate.

One can get COVID-19 even after the vaccination as no vaccine is 100 per cent safe which is why it is essential to take all precautions. Having said that, it is important to take the vaccine as it has shown to reduce the severity of the disease, say experts.

There are a lot of people who are saying what is the point of vaccination because I know a person who got vaccination and even after two weeks of vaccination, he got COVID-19. The vaccine prevents you from getting the disease in the form of severe illness, hospitalization, going into the ICUs, or even dying from COVID-19. It may not prevent you from getting the infection, said Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS, as quoted by news agency ANI.

Several states unable to start the phase 3 vaccination drive over vaccine shotage

vaccine-shortage-India (img credit: qz.com)

States like Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Telangana said they do not have sufficient doses to vaccinate those in the 18-44 age group.

Keeping in view the prevailing shortage of vaccines, the state governments are not sure whether it can start the third phase of vaccination from May 1 but will start inoculation of those in the 18-44 age group “as and when” vaccine doses are available.

In the meantime, Maharashtra Government has extended by another 15 days the lockdown-like restrictions to break the chain of infections. Also Uttar Pradesh Government has increased the duration of weekend lockdown by 24 hours.

Working of the Vaccines available in India

Vaccines are developed to help a person’s immune system recognize and protect the body against infections. India has been using two vaccines – Covishield, produced by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, manufactured by Bharat Biotech – to inoculate people. But on April 13, the centre decided to fast-track emergency approval for Covid vaccines used in other parts of the world.

COVID Vaccines available in India
COVID Vaccines available in India (src: m.economictimes.com)
  • Covaxin: This is an inactivated vaccine that has been developed using Whole-Virion Inactivated Vero Cell-derived platform technology. They contain dead viruses — incapable of infecting people but still able to instruct the immune system to mount a defensive reaction against an infection. The efficacy of this vaccine is therefore maintained.
  • Covishield: This is also known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (Adenovirus) or AZD1222, the vaccine is based on a weakened version of a common cold virus or the adenovirus that is found in chimpanzees. This viral vector contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein — protrusions present on the outer surface of the virus that help it bind with the human cell. Such vaccines have the potential to provide full protection from Influenza infection by inhibiting viral replication.
  • Sputnik V: This is developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology & the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). The vaccine is developed based on the well-studied platform of human adenoviral vectors and uses two different vectors for the two jabs for vaccination.

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