A year after the Coronavirus pandemic wrecked our collective lives, our society has been grappling with fear and insecurity. As a result, we have seen misinformation spread like wildfire, and many resorting to bizarre and incorrect methods of dealing with the virus. With this column, which will be published every Sunday, we aim to address any health or vaccine-related question our readers might have about the coronavirus pandemic.
In this week's column, the queries have been answered Dr NK Arora, who heads Operations Research Group, which is a part of the National Task Force set up by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in response to COVID-19. The queries are mostly related to eligibility of vaccination, and medications that can be consumed before and during the vaccination process.
What medications should be avoided before taking COVID-19 vaccine and for how long?
Currently, there is no such instruction. One can take one’s regular medication uninterruptedly. Just inform the vaccinator about the medicines you consume.
The Health Ministry has advised caution in vaccinating persons with a history of bleeding or coagulation disorder. How does a person know if he/she has a coagulation disorder? What tests can be conducted?
There are a few bleeding disorders like 'haemophilia'. These persons should take the vaccine under the supervision of their treating physician. Patients who are admitted in hospital or ICU and have bleeding problems should delay the vaccination till they are discharged. However, several people with heart and brain disorders are on blood thinners like aspirin and anti-platelet drugs. They can continue with their medicines and have the vaccines. For them, vaccines are absolutely safe.
The health advisory also states that those with immunity issues should be cautious about taking the vaccine. What are the markers of 'Immunity issues'?
Immune issues are of two types: one, immunosuppression due to any disease such as AIDS, and people on immunosuppressant drugs such as anti-cancer drugs, steroids, etc. Second, immunodeficiency in people who suffers from some defect in the body's protective system such as congenital immunodeficiency.
Currently, available COVID vaccines do not have any live virus and therefore individuals with immune issues can have the vaccine safely. But the vaccine may not be as effective in them. One should inform the vaccinator about the medicines they consume and if they are suffering from any known immune issues. The vaccinator should have a record of one’s medical condition.
Many are wary or cautious about taking the vaccine. What is the government/health officials doing to address their concerns?
Many senior doctors and other health personnel have taken the vaccine themselves. This proves that they, who have in-depth knowledge of medical science and drug development, have full faith in the vaccine and their gesture should give confidence to their junior colleagues and team members. Besides, all health personnel involved in the delivery of vaccines have been given scientific literature and communication training. Over 30 lac health personnel have accepted the vaccine in the first two weeks of vaccination drive, and the trend is improving by the day. It indicates that more and more people have confidence and readiness to accept the COVID vaccines.
What are intra-nasal vaccines? How effective is the BBV154, Bharat Biotech’s single-dose intra-nasal vaccine?
The said vaccine is in an early stage of its development. We have to wait for some time to know more about its effectiveness.
Do you have questions about Coronavirus? Or the vaccines? Send us your questions: Tweet with #AskADoctor. Every week, we will have a public health expert to address your concerns through this column.