Common questions about Covid Vaccinations

Two vaccines are available in India at present. The Covishield (Astra Zeneca/Oxford) vaccine is manufactured by Serum Insitute at Poona and the Covaxin vaccine is manufactured by Bharat Biotec based out of Hyderabad.

The poster in my clinic reads “When Narendra Modi and Subash Rau have taken the Covaxin vaccine, SO SHOULD YOU!😀😜
Or like all the others, you could take the COVISHIELD VACCINE!”

I think that it makes good sense to take any vaccine that would increase your resistence to the dreaded SARS-COV2 virus. We dont argue about taking Polio drops or the Rabies vaccine, so why do we object to taking the Covid Vaccine. The infection caused is REAL and the disease causes severe morbidity and even death in many people unlike any other infection in living memory.

Why I recommend the COVAXIN vaccine! The COVAXIN vaccine contains the entire virus that has been chemically killed. Therefore it would stimulate the body to produce antibodies to all components of the virus. I believe that this may give additional protection especially against mutant (newer) variants.

The COVISHIELD vaccine contains the message (RNA) that codes for the Spike protein of the Covid virus. Once injected it stimulates the body to produce antibodies against the Spike protein of the Covid virus ONLY. I believe that this may not, therefore provide the best cover against mutants varieties. Further , some believe that the immune response produced is a little weaker in the elderly.

What are the common side effects of Vaccination? Fever, swelling and pain at the injection site, dizziness, fatigue can occur after any vaccine and can also happen after the Covid vaccine. I believe the rates of local complications (swelling, pain, minor bleeding) are higher with the Covishield vaccine. However these are minor and will resolve in a week to 10 days time.

What precautions should you take if you are going for the vaccine? While stopping of blood thinners is advised for people going in for vaccination, I usually advice my patients NOT to stop any medicines that they normally take including blood thinners. The only real contraindication to vaccination is a history of previous allergy to the vaccine (which ofcourse, you wont know about until you take the first dose of the vaccine). So dont think too much about it, just take it!

There have been some centres that give vaccine for those willing to take the shot but arent yet eligible due to NOT having risk factors for severe disease or because they arent in the right age group. (at present , the vaccine is only offered to those above the age of 45yrs). Some centres fill in wrong details to make you eligible for the vaccine and this could have serious repucussions for you at a later date. I strongly advice you, not give wrong information while registering for the vaccine!

How long does the immunity from the vaccine last? the immunity from catching the Covid infection is believed to last for 6-8 months. It is for this reason that people recovering from Covid are asked to wait for 6 months before taking the vaccine in the west (and they are offered one shot of the vaccine only) . However people in India are given 2 shots of the vaccine as early as a month after recovering from the vaccine. I dont understand the rationale for this. It is not known how long the immunity induced by Vaccination would last. Only time and further study would tell.

What can you do and what shouldnt you do after completing 2 doses of Vaccination? The CDC has come out with some suggestions recently. Vaccinated individuals can meet indoors without masks unvaccinated individuals provided nobody in that house is at risk for severe covid (i.e., very old, very obese or patients with severe heart disease, lung disease, kidney failure or after organ transplantation or on strong immuno- suppresssive medications). So if you are fully vaccinated, you can now meet your children or grandchildren without masks and even hug them! You could also have a wedding reception for 50 people at a hotel provided that all of them ( invitees as well as staff) are vaccinated. I would also say say that you could also have a party for your friends at home using the same restrictions provided all of you have been fully vaccinated. Basically the CDC seems to be saying that you can have a near normal life if everyone you are in contact with, is fully vaccinated. Therefore to simplify this recommendation – you could meet in groups without wearing masks provided everyone has taken 2 shots of the vaccine and that none of the attendees have high risk features for severe covid and none of them have travelled long distance recently.

However you should note that : Vaccination is believed to prevent only disease and death and not infection. So if you are careless even after vaccination, you may acquire the infection and then pass the infection to someone else who may then die of the infection. If you are one in those 5-6% of people for whom the vaccine would fail, you could be a superspreader and could pass on the infection to many people. At the moment, we still do not know how to measure the immunty that is produced by full vaccination.

Currently, Travel (long distance) seems to be the most important cause for spread of the Covid infection. Travelling seems to put people at a very high risk for catching the infection. Israel has befun issuing a 6 month Vaccination passport which wold allow people to enter into restaurants, sports hallls and venues. This might also push people who are otherwise reluctant to get vaccinated.

Keep checking on this article. I intend to post more here as and when informaton is available.

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