India has started the world’s largest vaccination programme against Covid-19 last week and lakhs of healthcare and frontline workers have already been inoculated against the virus, but hesitancy over the safety and efficacy of the vaccines has persisted among people.
While some doubts are caused by the fast-tracked approval process for the two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin,
there are also several rumours and myths which are causing people to not turn up to take their shots. Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said it was unfortunate that some people were spreading misinformation about vaccination.
News18 answers the questions on possible adverse reactions, myths surrounding the vaccines and who should not take the vaccines for now.
Is it mandatory to take vaccine?
In the first phase of vaccination, the government aims to inoculate around 30 crore citizens comprising healthcare workers, frontline workers, those above 50 years of age and those below 50 years of age with pre-existing health complications. However, vaccination for Covid-19 is voluntary. The government though has advised the enlisted Phase-I beneficiaries to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves and limit the transmission of Coronavirus.
Will the vaccine cause infertility?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the two vaccines against Covid -19 – Covishield and Covaxin – could cause infertility in either women or men, the union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said.
Can one take the vaccines in case they have allergies?
It is generally not advisable to take the vaccine if one has a history of allergies. Both vaccine companies, Serum Institute of India as well as Bharat Biotech, have issued advisory with respect to the allergies. Serum Institute of India has said in their fact sheet that persons with a history of allergic reactions to any food, medicine or vaccine should inform about it to the vaccination team before receiving the vaccine.
Bharat Biotech has said in its fact sheet that those having any allergies are advised not to take the vaccine. Similarly, the union health ministry informed all state governments and union territories to inform vaccine beneficiaries that persons with a history of anaphylactic or allergic reaction are advised to not take the vaccine.
Are pregnant and lactating women, persons with prior diseases advised to take the vaccine?
The union health ministry has asked state governments and union territories to advise that since pregnant and lactating women have not been part of any Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial, they should not receive this time. Acutely unwell and hospitalized (with or without intensive care) persons facing any illness are advised to defer the vaccination 4-8 weeks after recovery.
Both Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech has said in its fact sheet that it is advisable for those on regular medication for illness, those with bleeding disorders, fever, and those who are immunocompromised to not take the vaccine.
Is it necessary to wear a mask after getting the vaccine’s first dose?
Yes, it is necessary. Protective levels of antibodies are generally developed two weeks after receiving the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The second dose of the vaccine will be administered four weeks after the first dose is given and individuals need to complete the full schedule. The government has advised that people are to strictly follow all Covid-19 appropriate behaviour such as masking, physical distancing, hand-washing and avoiding crowded places at the vaccine site as well as after receiving the first and second dose.
Should those who had prior Coronavirus infection take the vaccine?
The union health ministry has advised that those with an active Coronavirus infection should delay the vaccination for four-eight weeks after recovery whereas those with a prior history of infection are advised to take the vaccine to improve immunity.
What is an adverse reaction?
According to the union health ministry, an adverse event following immunization (AEFI) is any unexpected medical occurrence which follows immunization. It may or may not be related to vaccine or vaccination process. “Majority of the AEFIs are minor in nature: pain, mild swelling at injection site, mild fever, body ache, nausea, giddiness and mild allergic reactions like rashes, etc,” the health ministry has said in a press release.