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Importance of Vaccination

Covid pandemic has changed the world and the way we live. The confidence of a human being is shattered due to uncertainty and the threat of Covid infection with its unpredictable severity and mortality. Despite preventive strategies, covid is indeed not receding and there is waxing and waning course in different parts of the world. The only hope of Covid control is vaccination to attain Herd immunity. We have 2 vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, available with us. As of now, and many more are in pipeline over the next few months.Recently, Ministry of health and family Welfare has come up with changes in Vaccination guidelines as per the Recommendation of National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), based on the evolving situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and emerging global scientific evidence & experience.Firstly, individuals with proven SARS-2

COVID-19 illness should defer their vaccination by three months after recovery. Earlier guidelines had recommended deferment for only 4-8 weeks after recovery.Secondly, for Covid patients who have been given convalescent plasma or anti-SARS-2 monoclonal antibodies (e.g., recently introduced casirivimab and imdevimab) during the Covid-19 treatment, shall also defer their vaccination by three months from the date of discharge from hospital. For this category too, the earlier recommendation was for the vaccination to be deferred for 4-8 weeks after recovery.Thirdly, for breakthrough cases i.e., Covid-19 infection after 1st dose of vaccine - it is recommended that in such cases, the individuals should defer the second dose for 3 months after clinical recovery from Covid-19 illness. Fourthly, guidelines further recommended that any persons with “any other serious general illness” requiring hospitalisation or Intensive Care Unit care should also wait for 4-8 weeks before getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

Another important development is to allow vaccination for lactating women, on the lines of the recommendation made by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it has been found that Covid-19 vaccines are not a risk to lactating mothers or their breastfeeding babies. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding mothers who received Covid-19 mRNA vaccines have antibodies in their breast milk, which could help protect their babies, though more data is needed to determine what protection these antibodies will provide to the baby. Previously, pregnant women or those who were not sure of their pregnancy, and lactating women were excluded from vaccination program. For pregnant females, we have to wait for more data.Before concluding, We would like to emphasise on few more things related to vaccination, firstly, patients with comorbidities like heart diseases, kidney problems, respiratory illness etc should take vaccine; it is our only weapon to conclusively end this pandemic.

Patients with asthma/allergy should proceed with vaccination after checking with their doctors and also check if they are allergic to any vaccine ingredients.There are some reports of clot formation with astrazeneca (Covishield) vaccine for which patients are prophylactically taking Asprin, however there is no evidence for Asprin in prevention of such complications. However, if someone is already on blood thinners then that should be continued and no need to hold medications for vaccination.

Benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine

  • Prevent you from getting COVID-19 or from becoming seriously ill or dying due to COVID-19
  • Prevent you from spreading the COVID-19 virus to others
  • Add to the number of people in the community who are protected from getting COVID-19 — making it harder for the disease to spread and contributing to herd immunity
  • Prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading and replicating, which allows it to mutate and possibly become more resistant to vaccines

Possible side effects of getting a COVID-19 vaccine

Typically all vaccines come with some side effects as the immune system responds to it.

You'll likely be monitored for 15 minutes after getting a COVID-19 vaccine to see if you have an immediate reaction. Most side effects happen within the first three days after vaccination and typically last only one to two days.

“As of now, the reported side effects that have occurred from the COVID-19 vaccine are soreness, mild pain or mild swelling at the site of injection which are usually very common after any vaccination. Other side effects could vary from person to person and may include headache, fatigue, muscle pain, mild fever, etc. In the rare case that there is a serious reaction, the person must speak to their doctor as there is a small chance that they might have an allergic reaction. Ideally, vaccination can be taken before the weekend or before a holiday so that there is not too much work to deal with and the person can relax.

These side effects are temporary and are expected to go away on their own after some time.

Because COVID-19 vaccines clinical trials only started in the summer of 2020, it’s not yet clear if these vaccines will have long-term side effects. However, vaccines rarely cause long-term side effects