India is all set to begin a mega vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus, starting Saturday, 16 January. Around 30 crore people, including healthcare and frontline workers, across the country are expected to get vaccinated in the first phase.
The vaccines – Oxford University's 'Covishield' and Bharat Biotech's ‘Covaxin’ – received emergency use approval from the government, earlier this year. Both are two-dose vaccines, which will have to be administered at a gap of 28 days.
However, there are numerous questions on your mind that still need answers.
Who gets vaccinated? Who doesn’t? What are the possible side effects? What is the difference between the two vaccines? Can you choose between them?
Our Health Editor Vaishali Sood, along with Dr Shahid Jameel, Virologist, Director, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University, are answering your questions on COVID vaccines.
Are Covishield and Covaxin vaccines safe?
Safety is not being compromised but we still don't know how effective the vaccine is due to lack of data. If you have food allergies, then this vaccine is not for you yet – the government has also said this in a recent advisory. Always consult your physician before opting for the vaccine.
Will I get Bell’s palsy or seizures if I take a COVID-19 vaccine?
While minor side effects like redness at the site of the shot and dizziness are expected, not enough data is available to state that a person is at a definite risk of having a seizure or Bell’s palsy, if a COVID-19 vaccine is administered.
Can I get COVID-19 after taking a vaccine?
COVID-19 is a disease. You may get infected, but the virus will not replicate or become severe. However, you may transmit the disease.
Will vaccines be available in free market?
I have heard that I won’t get to choose between Covishield and Covaxin. Is that true?
Vaccines are available in limited quantities at the moment. So, there will be no choice as of now.
Will I be informed which vaccine is being administered to me?
While the person getting vaccinated will be asked to fill in a consent form, it is likely that they will not be informed about the vaccine they are being given. However, clarity from the government is expected on this soon.
Should a person, who has recovered from COVID-19, get vaccinated?
Yes, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of COVID vaccination, irrespective of past history of infection, the Health Ministry has said. Get yourself tested for anti-bodies – this is an easy test. If you get this test done every month or so, you will know the status.
If you are a frontline worker and are being given the vaccine, you should take it. It will do no harm.
Will any pre-existing chronic condition undermine the efficiency of the vaccine?
You should consult your physician before taking any vaccine in an emergency. If you are suffering from immunodeficiency, the vaccine may not work very well.
Should I continue to wear masks even after getting vaccinated?
Even though you may be protected from the disease after the vaccination, you could still transmit it to others. So, wearing masks is mandatory even after a person has been vaccinated.
Can I mix and match the two doses of vaccine?
Mix and match will not cause harm but it will not lead to any results either. The first dose of vaccine primes your immune system, while the second dose boosts it. Mix and match will not serve this purpose.
Is it mandatory to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
India is registering really low COVID-19 case numbers. Does this mean the pandemic is over?
We may have low numbers today but that doesn't mean we won't see a resurgence again. So wear masks, maintain physical distance until the pandemic truly recedes.
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