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 by Dr Samiran Panda, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases division, ICMR. Panda has addressed questions on how to deal with mental health issues and pregnancy during vaccination.
Can depression or other mental health issues reduce COVID-19 vaccine's efficacy?
There is no evidence, as of yet, to support this conjecture. However, people suffering from depression or any other mental health issues may need support from caregivers (from within the family or care centres) in adhering to their vaccination schedule. Besides, it is advisable that the treating physicians of the individuals with mental health issues should be consulted before they receive the COVID-19 vaccine to rule out the possibility of any potential contraindications due to the medication they are on.
Should pregnancy be delayed/avoided after taking the COVID-19 vaccine?
As currently, we don’t have sufficient information on the possible effects of COVID-19 vaccine on pregnancy, delaying pregnancy by 3 months or so is advisable. One should consult an obstetrician before making the decision.
Why has Pfizer withdrawn its application for EUA of its COVID-19 vaccine in India?
Only Pfizer can answer this. The concerns of the company in relation to Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) application to DCGI have not yet been made public.
How can people prove that they have been vaccinated? Are there any certificates being given to them?
Yes, people will get a certificate post-vaccination. You may contact your State or District Immunization Officer for the same. One can also get COVID-19 vaccination certificate digitally using the Co-WIN app.
Why have India's Covid-19 cases fallen sharply? Should India expedite the vaccine drive?
Multiple factors could be responsible for the decline in COVID-19 cases. One, some people may have developed antibodies following SARS-CoV-2 infection. Second, some are protected because they follow COVID-appropriate behaviour. However, a considerable proportion of Indians are still vulnerable to the infection and, therefore, there is a need for vaccination, which will further help in breaking the chain of transmission of the virus. Since there is threat of a resurge of infection, and majority of Indians are still vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection, we should not lower our guards. We need to follow COVID- appropriate behaviour—wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding mass gatherings. And we should take the vaccine when our turn comes.
When will the vaccine be available for private purchase?
It is for the government to take a call on this.
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.