As the vaccination process opens up for all adults from May 1, it is essential to keep a few things in mind before opting for it. Ideally, the two doses of Covaxin have to be taken four weeks apart, and in the case of Covishield, the doses have to be taken at an interval of 6-8 weeks. However, during the interim period between the two doses, if someone contracts the Covid-19, he or she should wait for a while and safely take the vaccine any time after 2-4 weeks, after all the symptoms of the COVID-19 have been resolved.
If someone who has had COVID-19 recently wants to take the vaccine, then ideally, that person should do so anytime between one to three months after symptom resolution, following infection with SARS-.CoV-2.
What has to be understood is that the vaccines of COVID-19 are disease-modifying vaccines. Both Covaxin and Covishield do not prevent you from getting an infection, but they protect and guard you against any severe disease from COVID-19 in future. However, if you do get infected after taking both doses of either of the vaccine, there is no need for revaccination at the current time. Your vaccine will remain effective and will manage your symptoms better.
There is also a chance that a person with asymptomatic Covid infection takes the vaccine, but there is nothing to worry about. It does not cause any adverse effects.
A vaccine dose is well-measured and well-calibrated to produce a certain amount of immune response in the body. But in the case of natural infection, we can never be sure if the antibodies produced are enough to give adequate protection. It has been seen that antibody titres in case of a natural infection may go down with time, usually within 6-9 months. Whereas in the case of vaccines, the immunity lasts longer.
As we gather data in the following days, we will know more about the duration of immunity following vaccination –also called immune memory. As the disease and the vaccine developed against it –are both new—our understanding about them in the present time is limited. Infection can happen. It can be because of the old strain or any new mutant. But the vaccine will help prevent severe disease.Dr Panda is the Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases division, ICMR, New Delhi.