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What Are Side-Effects Of Covid-19 Vaccines? Can Kids Get The Shot? All FAQs Answered

News18 Creative

News18 Creative

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 after the first dose of vaccine, wait for at least four weeks after recovery before taking the next dose, say doctors

The government decided to expand the COVID-19 vaccination drive and opened it for everyone above 18 years of age, starting May 1. India is currently witnessing an unrelenting surge in COVID infections. People should get vaccinated as soon as they can, say experts. Dr Srinivas G. Kasi, a senior consultant pediatrician based in Bengaluru with special interest in vaccinology, answers some frequently asked questions around COVID vaccination.

Do I have an option of choosing which vaccine I can take?

Initially, vaccination centers had only one brand of the COVID-19 vaccine, hence the option of choosing a particular brand did not arise. Now, if a centre administers two vaccines, some states have allowed beneficiaries to choose. The CoWin platform, however, does not allow a beneficiary to choose between the vaccines.

My first dose was that of Covishield, can I take a shot of Covaxin as the second dose or vice-versa?

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No. Covaxin and Covisheld are based on different platforms. Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine while Covishied is based on viral vector platform. It’s important to take the same shot the second time to develop immunity.

I tested positive for COVID-19 after taking the first vaccine dose. How long should I wait before I take the second dose of vaccine? Or will I have to take both doses again?

The recommendation is to wait for at least four weeks after recovery from COVID symptoms before taking the next dose of the vaccine. There is no need to start the schedule all over again.

Between the first and second dose of the vaccine, is there any particular diet I should follow?

No, regular diet is to be followed.

I am pregnant, should I get vaccinated?

Studies have shown that pregnant women with COVID-19 have an increased risk of severe illness and hence need to be prioritized for COVID vaccines. Both available vaccines are non-replicating vaccines and no evidence exists of risk to the fetus from vaccinating pregnant women with non-replicating vaccines in general. No safety studies have been done in pregnant women. The Ministry of Health, Government of India, does not recommend COVID vaccines for pregnant women. However, the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) has opined that there are no actual or theoretical risks that would outweigh the potential benefits of vaccination for pregnant women. FIGO recommends COVID-19 vaccination to pregnant and breastfeeding women. The USA and UK health authorities also recommend COVID vaccines to pregnant women after a one-to-one discussion.

I have recovered from COVID-19 infection. Do I need to get vaccinated?

Yes, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of COVID-19 vaccine irrespective of past history of infection with COVID-19. Development of immunity or duration of protection after COVID-19 exposure is not established, therefore, in order to boost your immunity, it is recommended to receive vaccine even after COVID-19 infection.

Are there any side-effects of vaccines? What are they? Are they normal?

As with any other vaccine, minor side-effects have been reported after COVID vaccination. These include arm soreness, mild fever, tiredness, headaches, muscle or joint aches. Inspite of the occurrence of extremely rare adverse effects (1-2 per million vaccinees), the benefit risk ratio is hugely in favour of administering the vaccine.

I have taken the second dose of vaccine as well. Will the immunity last forever or do I need a booster shot?

At present, there is no recommendation for booster doses after completing the primary schedule. Protective antibody titers are expected to last for 6-12 months. However, protection by the T-cells is expected to last longer. Only long-term follow up of the vaccinated cohorts in the trials and follow up of the vaccinated population will give an answer regarding the need for boosters. Studies are underway to assess the response and safety of booster doses.

Do children need to get vaccinated as well?

Children have not been prioritized for COVID vaccination for two reasons. First, there is no data on the efficacy and safety of COVID vaccine in children. Second, children have a lower risk of acquiring COVID infection and a low risk of severe COVID and hospitalization. However, near normalcy cannot be achieved without acquisition of herd immunity. Herd immunity can occur only if 65-70 per cent of the population is immune and this cannot be achieved without vaccinating children. Moreover, schooling and other childhood activities cannot be safely resumed, without protecting children with vaccines.

Can I consume alcohol a day before, on the day or a day after I have taken a vaccine shot?

Yes, in moderation, as alcohol can suppress the immune response.

I am on medication for co-morbidities, do I need to stop taking the medicines before or after vaccination?

No. All medications are to be continued. There is no need to stop any medications.

I have taken both doses of the vaccine. Do I still need to wear a mask while stepping out?

Yes. Protection conferred by vaccines is not absolute. Social distancing, masking and hand hygiene is to be continued after vaccination as well.

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