Some Commonly Asked Questions Surrounding Covid19 Vaccine: Dr. Randeep Gularia, Director, AIIMS, Delhi

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COVID-19 vaccine is on its third phase of human trial but there are still a lot of many questions that people seek answers for. Health Info and News brings to you. The expert himself to and we the most frequently asked question surrounding Covid-19 vaccine. Dr. Randeep Gularia, Director, AIIMS, Delhi tries to address some of the most frequently asked questions.

Q. Is a COVID-19 vaccine scheduled anytime soon?

Yes vaccine stages are under different stages of finalisation. Many of the vaccines are in the phase-3 trials and are almost complete. Once the regulatory clearances are given by the regulatory authorities, the government of India is all geared up to launch these vaccines for COVID-19.

Q. Will the COVID-19 vaccine b given to everyone simultaneously?

This depends on the availability of the vaccine. The government of India has selected priority groups who will be vaccinated based on several risk factors. The first group will include healthcare workers and frontline workers. The second group that will receive the vaccine will be persons over the age of 50 years and persons under 50 years with comorbid conditions.

Q. Is it mandatory to take the vaccine?

The vaccine for COVID-19 is voluntary. However, it is advisable to take the complete vaccine schedule as far as COVID-19 is concerned because we not only want to protect ourselves but also our near and dear ones, our close contacts, our family members and our co-workers.

Q. Will the vaccine be safe as it is being tested and introduced in a short span of time?

Vaccine will be introduced in the country only after regulatory bodies clear it based on its safety and efficacy. I think safety is the most important factor and all standard precautions as they have been followed in the past for vaccine approval will be followed as far as this vaccine is concerned.

Q. Will the vaccine introduced in India be as effective as the ones introduced in other countries?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine introduced in India will be as effective as any vaccine developed by other countries. Various phases of vaccine trials are undertaken to ensure its safety and efficacy.

Q. How will I know if I am eligible for vaccination?

In the initial phase, the COVID-19 vaccine will only be provided to the priority groups and these include healthcare workers and frontline workers. Those above the age of 50 may also get vaccinated early depending upon the availability of vaccine. The eligible beneficiaries will be informed through their registered mobile numbers and the scheduled time for the same. This will be done to avoid any inconvenience in registration and vaccination of the beneficiaries.

Q. Can a person get the COVID-19 vaccine without a registration with the Health Department?

No, I don’t think that would be right. Registration of the beneficiary is mandatory for vaccination of COVID-19. Only after registration, the information on the session site to visit and time will be shared with the beneficiary

Q. What documents are required for the registration of an eligible beneficiary?

Any one document that I am going to be mentioning with a photo maybe produced at the time of registration and these include – driving license, heath insurance smart card issued under the scheme of Ministry of Labour, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) job card, official identity cards issued by MPs/MLAs/MLCs, PAN card, passbook issued by Bank/Post Office, Passport, Pension Documents, service identity cards issued to employees by Central/State Govt./Public Limited Companies or voter ID cards.

Q. Will a photo ID be required at the time of registration?

The photo ID produced at the time of registration must be produced and verified at the time of vaccination.

Q.If a person is not able to produce photo/ID at the session site will the vaccination be cancelled?

Photo ID is a must for both registration and verification of beneficiary at session site to ensure that the intended person is vaccinated.

Q. How will the beneficiary receive information about the due date of the vaccination?

Following online registration, beneficiary will receive an SMS on the registered mobile number on the due date, place and time of vaccination.

Q. Will vaccinated beneficiaries information on the status of their vaccination after completion?

Yes, on getting due dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the beneficiary will receive an SMS on their registered mobile number. After all doses of vaccine are administered, a QR code based certificate will also be sent to the registered mobile number.

Q. Are there any preventive measures and precautions that one needs to follow after getting the vaccine?

Yes, I would suggest that you take some rest, at least for half and hour after taking the vaccine. If you experience any symptoms or discomforts please inform the nearest authorities like the ANM, ASHA workers, so that they can attend you in case you have a problem. Remember to continue following key COVID appropriate behavior like wearing of mask, maintaining hand sanitisation, and 6 feet social distancing.

Q. Out of the multiple vaccines available, how is one or more vaccine chosen for administration?

The safety and efficacy data from clinical trials of vaccine candidates are examined thoroughly by the drug regulator of our country before granting license for the same. Hence, all COVID vaccines that receive the license will have comparable safety and efficacy. However, it is important that we ensure that the entire schedule of vaccination is completed by one type of vaccine as different COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable.

Q. Can a person presently having active and symptomatic COVID-19 infection be vaccinated?

A person presently having active and symptomatic COVID-19 infection may increase the risk of spreading the same to other at the vaccination site. Also, we do not know how effective the vaccine will be in such a situation when one is already having active infection. For this reason, I believe that active and symptomatic individuals should defer vaccination at least 14 days after the symptoms are resolved.

Q. Is it necessary for a COVID-19 recovered person to take the vaccine?

Yes, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule for COVID-19 vaccine irrespective of the past history of infection with COVID-19. This will help you in developing a better immune response against the disease.

Q. If one is taking medicine for illnesses like cancer, diabetes, hypertension etc can s/he take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, I think it is very important that these individuals who are having one or more comorbid conditions take the vaccine because they are actually high-risk groups. They must take the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves. It is also important for the to understand that their medication will not interfere with the efficacy of the vaccine.

Q. What about possible side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?

The vaccine will only be introduced only when the safety is proven. As is true for other vaccines, some will have some degree of common side effects in some individuals which could be in the form of mild fever, pain at the site of injection, body aches, etc. States have been asked to start making arrangements to deal with any COVID-19 vaccine related side effects as one of the measures towards safe vaccine delivery.

Q. How many doses of the vaccine would one have to take and at what intervals?

Two doses of vaccine, 28 days apart are needed and this needs to be taken by all of us to complete the vaccine schedule.

Q. When would antibodies develop? After the first dose or the second ?

Protective levels of antibodies generally will develop two weeks after receiving the 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Q. Does India have the capacity to store the COVID-19 vaccine at a temperature of +2 to +8 degree Celsius and transport them at a required temperature?

India runs one of the largest immunisation program in the world. We cater to the vaccine needs of more than 26 million newborns and 29 million pregnant women which is a huge number. The program mechanism are being strengthened and geared up to effectively cater to the country’s large and diverse population. All the best., and I would advise everyone who falls in the category of getting the vaccine to get him/herself vaccinated as early as possible.

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