COVID-19 Vaccines For Parents & Other Seniors: Your Qs Answered!

The COVID-19 vaccination drive rolled out across India for senior citizens and 45-year-olds with comorbidities several weeks ago. This has also been extended to all over 45 years from April 1. And while many have taken their shots, several seniors are still hesitant.

Have your parents, grandparents and other senior family members taken their shots yet? Here, we address common concerns and questions on the processes so more seniors get the protection they need against COVID-19.

1. Why should I encourage seniors in my family to take their shot?

  • The risk of severity of COVID-19 illness goes up with age. This means, your parents, grandparents, and other older adults are more vulnerable to an infection that might require hospitalization. Another possibility is that, if things worsen, treatment may involve intensive care unit (ICU) or ventilator support for breathing.
  • The risk of fatality is also several times higher among this age group.

The COVID-19 vaccines are designed to lower precisely these risks of severe diseases.

2. My parents have comorbidities – isn’t it better they avoid the vaccine?

Many seniors with diabetes, hypertension, or other pre-existing chronic medical issues worry about adverse side effects . This is unfortunate because those with comorbidities are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and would likely benefit the most from being vaccinated. Have a word with your doctor to ensure there are no contraindications and to set your mind at ease.

3. Which vaccine should we choose?

Two vaccines are currently available in India, approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) – Covishield (Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine) from SSI (Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin produced by Bharat Biotech. Both vaccines have shown good efficacy results in trials and adverse effect are few, at similar levels to those of any other vaccinations we get in our lifetimes.

4. Why shouldn’t we wait for a better or more superior vaccine to be available?

As numbers surge again across India, waiting for a “better” vaccine may be a lethal mistake according to medical experts. Both vaccines available in the Indian market have shown good efficacy rates in protecting against severe disease and death from COVID-19. It is, therefore, a choice of getting protection as soon as it is available to you.

In short, the expert consensus is that getting some vaccine promptly is better that no vaccine.

5.How do I initiate the process & register my parents?

The government COWIN app is easy to use and offers a way to schedule shots, generate a vaccination certificate, and keep track of the vaccination used, batch details etc. The only documentation required for senior citizens is their Aadhar card. Simply use those details to register, choose a convenient center near by, and fix an appointment for the vaccination.

6. What side effects can be expected?

Possible side effects from the vaccine include tenderness/pain at the injection site, headache, nausea, fever, fatigue, chills, body ache etc., as commonly seen with any routine vaccination. But not everyone will experience a side effect. Some may have none at all, others may have a couple of mild side effects.

7. What can I do to offer emotional support to senior family members?