The COVID-19 vaccines are at various stages of approval and rollout in India. As you await your turn and consider the pros and cons of the COVID-19 vaccine for your family, here are simple answers to the burning questions on all our minds.
1. Why should I take the COVID-19 vaccination?
There are several compelling reasons to get vaccinated:
- It reduces your risk of contracting COVID-19.
- It significantly cuts the risk of severity and fatality – that is, your chances of developing a severe form of the disease, needing hospitalization, or death from COVID-19.
- It also reduces your chances of transmitting the infection to others, including more vulnerable loved ones.
- When enough of us have been vaccinated, it will enable us to achieve a level of herd immunity from the virus.
2. Is it mandatory to take the vaccine?
Taking the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory. However, it is highly recommended as a means to protect yourself and those around you who may be susceptible to a more severe form of the infection.
3. Who all should get vaccinated?
Everyone who is eligible should get vaccinated. This is what Indian guidelines stipulate:
Speak with your family physician to ensure you are eligible and to address any concerns. In case you need help reaching a doctor, we will be happy to organize this for you.
4. Should everyone in my family get the vaccine?
Ideally, all family members or people living together in a household or interacting frequently should be vaccinated for more effective protection. This will also help control the spread of the virus to more vulnerable members of your circle.
5. I have comorbidities/existing health problems. Is it safe to take the vaccine?
While it is natural to feel wary, you would stand to benefit even more than someone who does not have an existing health problem. These vaccines have been approved for use on those with comorbidities and could significantly cut your risk of severe infection, complications, and mortality from COVID-19.
You should, however, consult your family physician before taking the vaccine to allay any concerns. Reach out to us if need help to organize an online doctor consultation.
6. What vaccine options are available to me? Which should I choose?
While more manufacturers are expected to enter the fray, three vaccines have been approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for restricted emergency use in India:
- Covishield from Serum Institute Of India (Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine)
- Covaxin from Bharat Biotech
- Sputnik V from Dr. Reddy’s (not available yet)
These vaccines have all shown good efficacy results in trials and reported adverse effects are very few, at par with any other vaccinations we get in our lifetimes.
7. How do these vaccines work?
These vaccines are intramuscular (IM) shots that will be injected into a muscle. You will need two doses in all, with a specific interval between the doses – the stipulated gap for two doses of Covishield is 12-16 weeks while that for Covaxin is 4 weeks.
8. Why shouldn’t I wait for a “better” or more superior version of the vaccine to be available?
With the surge in cases across India, waiting for a “better” vaccine may be a lethal mistake according to medical experts.
The COVID-19 vaccines available in India today will protect you from severe disease and death. It is, therefore, a choice of getting protection promptly as soon as it is available to you.
9. Will the vaccines have any side effects?
Like any other vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines may cause mild to moderate minorside effects for a few days. But not everyone will experience a side effect – some may have none while others may have a couple of mild side effects.
You will also be monitored for 30 minutes after the shot for any adverse reactions to the vaccine. These are, however, rare.
10. Do I really need a second shot?
Yes. the COVID-19 vaccines currently used for immunization drives in India require two doses to be fully beneficial. For better protection and longer immunity, make sure you don’t miss the second dose.
Remember, both shots you take must be of the same vaccine – the various kinds are not interchangeable.
11. How long is this vaccine effective for?
As this vaccination is new and is still being studied, an exact period of protection from the vaccine is not yet known. You should, therefore, continue to take all normal precautions even after you are vaccinated.
12. Should I get vaccinated if I have already had COVID-19? How long should I wait?
Even if you previously had COVID-19, it is a good idea to get vaccinated to bolster your immunity and improve your chances of fighting off a possible reinfection now or later.
You can take the vaccine 3 months after recovering from the infection.
13. What should I do after getting vaccinated, as after care?
- Avoid overexerting yourself for a few days after your shot.
- Eat light, nutritious food and stay hydrated.
- If you have side effects that worsen in 24 hours or become unmanageable, speak with a doctor.
14. Do I still need to take precautions after getting the vaccine?
Yes. Because the effectiveness and duration of protection offered by the vaccines are still being studied, you should maintain precautions as before.
Continue to practice these safety measures: