New Delhi: Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 will be voluntary, the Union Health Ministry has said while underlining that the vaccine introduced in India will be as effective as any vaccine developed by other countries.
The ministry further stated that it was advisable to receive a complete schedule of the anti-coronavirus vaccine irrespective of past history of infection with COVID-19 as this will help in developing a strong immune response against the disease.
It also said that protective level of antibodies generally develop two weeks after receiving the second dose.
The ministry listed a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday night and responded to questions like if taking a vaccine was mandatory, how long does it take for the antibodies to develop and if it was necessary for a COVID recovered person to take the vaccine.
"Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary. However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of the vaccine for protecting one-self against this disease and also to limit the spread of this disease to the close contacts including family members, friends, relatives and co-workers," the ministry said in response to a question on if it is mandatory to take the shot. The ministry said that vaccine trials are under different stages of finalisation.
The government is geared to launch a vaccine for COVID-19 soon, it said.
Six vaccines- one developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR, second one developed by Zydus Cadila, third one by Gennova, Oxford vaccine, trial of which is conducted by Serum Institute of India, Sputnik V vaccine which is being manufactured by Dr Reddy's Lab, Hyderabad, in collaboration with Russia's Gamaleya National Centre and the sixth one manufactured by Biological E Ltd, Hyderabad, in collaboration with MIT, USA are undergoing clinical trials in India.
On whether a vaccine will be safe as it is being tested and introduced in a short span of time and what can be the possible side-effects, the ministry said vaccines will be introduced in the country only after the regulatory bodies clear it based on its safety and efficacy.
"COVID-19 vaccine will be introduced only when the safety is proven. As is true for other vaccines, the common side effects in some individuals could be mild fever, pain, etc. at the site of injection," the ministry said in the FAQs. It said states have been asked to start making arrangements to deal with any vaccine-related side-effects as one of the measures towards safe vaccine delivery.
Two doses of vaccine, 28 days apart, need to be taken by an individual to complete the vaccination schedule, it stated. The ministry said anyone taking medicines for illnesses like cancer, diabetes, hypertension etc, can take the COVID-19 vaccine as persons with one or more of these comorbid conditions are considered high-risk category and they need to get vaccination.
In response to a question on whether the vaccine will be given to everyone simultaneously, the ministry said that based on the potential availability of vaccines, the government has selected priority groups to be vaccinated as they are at higher risk. In the initial phase, COVID 19 vaccine will be provided to the priority group- health care and front-line workers.
The 50 plus age group may also begin early based on vaccine availability. The eligible beneficiaries will be informed through their registered mobile number regarding the health facility where the vaccination will be provided and the scheduled time. This will be done to avoid any inconvenience in registration and vaccination of beneficiaries, the ministry said in the FAQs.
On why healthcare providers and frontline workers are being chosen for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, the ministry said the government has prioritised the most at risk/high risk groups which will get the vaccine first. Healthcare providers have led the battle against COVID-19 from the front. The government wants them to be able to continue your work, without the fear of risk associated with the virus.
"Therefore, healthcare and frontline workers are among the first group of people to be vaccinated,"' it said. The ministry said registration of a beneficiary is mandatory for vaccination for COVID-19. Only after registration the information on the session site to visit and time will be shared.
Following online registration, beneficiary will receive SMS on their registered mobile number on the due date, place and time of vaccination. ID with Photo such as driving license, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) job card, PAN Card, passbooks issued by Bank/Post Office, passport Pension Document , service identity card issued to employees by Central/ State Govt./ Public Limited Companies and voter ID may be produced at the time of registration.
On getting due dose of vaccine, the beneficiary will receive SMS on their registered mobile number. After all doses of vaccine are administered, a QR code based certificate will also be sent to the registered mobile number of the beneficiary, the ministry said.
On preventive measures and precautions, the ministry said, "We request you to rest at the vaccination centre for at least half an hour after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. "Inform the nearest health authorities/ANM/ASHA in case you feel any discomfort or uneasiness subsequently. Remember to continue following key COVID Appropriate Behaviours like wearing of mask, maintaining hand sanitization and physical distance," it added.