Covid-19: The shot that you need
The government has decided a massive immunisation rollout against the pandemic- causing coronavirus. Earlier, only healthcare workers and those above a certain age were being immunised. Now the criteria have been expanded and younger people can get the vaccine. You can either go to a primary health centre, government hospital or private hospital, where you can register and get the vaccine for a charge of Rs 250.
The vaccines available in India require two injections six to eight weeks apart. We still don’t have the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which requires only one shot. All the vaccines are equally effective. You should register on the CoWin app and get whichever vaccine is available as soon as possible.
Taking the vaccine will prevent you from spreading the infection to others, especially the elderly family members. It will increase the number of immune people in the community and help with herd immunity. As the virus cannot find a host, it will eventually die out.
Many people are scared of getting immunised. They fear that they might develop the infection from the vaccine. No live viruses are used in the manufacture of the vaccine. A piece of the virus is carried on a protein or another virus like the common cold virus and injected into the body. So there is no possibility of getting the coronavirus infection from the vaccine.
In general, people are fearful of immunisations. They forget that for years we have been giving children around 30 injections and oral immunisations against a variety of diseases, such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, meningitis, ear infections, typhoid, chickenpox, measles, mumps, German measles, flu, jaundice (hepatitis A and B), diarrhoea, and even cervical cancer. As a country, we have managed to eradicate smallpox. Today, measles and polio are practically non-existent. Yet, there is a great deal of fear and hesitation when it comes to taking the coronavirus vaccine. The government is trying to control a pandemic and save lives. Hospitalisation once the disease has set in is prohibitively expensive, often requiring oxygen and ICU care.
Side effects to the vaccine occur in some people and not in others. Women are more likely to have side effects than men. The common complaints are fever, pain at the injection site, muscle pain, chills, headache and fatigue. The side effects are more pronounced after the second dose. They can be severe in people who unknowingly had a mild Covid-19 infection. Severe side effects are extremely rare. The effects of the vaccine are being monitored internationally. Sometimes, some other disease may occur by sheer coincidence and may be blamed on the vaccine.
Paracetamol should preferably not be taken prior to the administration of the vaccine. Its anti-inflammatory action may interfere with the response to the vaccine. Paracetamol can be taken afterwards if the fever or muscle pains are severe. Any discomfort is transitory and will disappear in a few days.
Even a person who has had two doses of vaccine can get infected with the coronavirus. In that case, the disease is mild and doesn’t usually require hospitalisation. He or she will recover well.
However, even after you have taken the vaccine, you need to follow government guidelines and continue to wear a mask in public.
The writer is a paediatrician with a family practice at Vellore and the author of Staying Healthy in Modern India. If you have any questions on health issues please write to email@example.com