World Immunisation Week | Part 4 | Vaccination and COVID-19

Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA2030) sets an ambitious, overarching global vision and strategy for vaccines and immunisation for the decade 2021–2030. It draws on lessons from the past decade and acknowledges continuing and new challenges posed by infectious diseases (e.g. Ebola, COVID-19). Through collective endeavour, countries and partners are trying to achieve the vision for the decade:

A world where everyone, everywhere, at every age, fully benefits from vaccines for good health and well-being.

Every country is fighting against the prevailing pandemic with their might. Different vaccines are being used in different countries. In this presentation, we would specifically focus on India.

COVID-19 VACCINATION

Here in India, from tomorrow, i.e. 01st May 2021, yet another phase of vaccination drive would commence, wherein everyone above the age of 18 years would become eligible to be the part of this campaign. Let us try to look into the vaccines that are available as on today for protection against COVID-19.

Two vaccines have been granted emergency use authorization by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) in India, which are Covishield® and Covaxin®

Covishield® vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, is a Viral Vector-based Technology which is also used to manufacture Ebola vaccine.

Covaxin® vaccine, manufactured by the Bharat Biotech, is a Whole-virion Inactivated Coronavirus Vaccine which is also used to manufacture vaccines like Influenza, Rabies and Hepatitis- A.

You might think what if I don’t take the shot? Vaccination for COVID-19 isn’t mandatory, rather it is voluntary. However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of COVID-19 vaccine for protecting oneself against this disease and also to limit the spread among the close contacts including family members, friends, relatives and co-workers.

Those who are either confirmed or even suspected for having COVID-19 infection may increase the risk of spreading the same to others at vaccination site. Hence, infected individuals are advised that they should defer vaccination for 14 days after symptoms resolution.

If someone has recovered from the disease, should s/he still be vaccinated? Answer to this question is Yes. It is advisable to receive complete schedule of COVID-19 vaccine irrespective of past history of infection with COVID-19. This will help in developing a strong immune response against the disease. Development of immunity or duration of protection after COVID-19 exposure is not yet established therefore it is recommended to receive vaccine even after COVID-19 infection. However, wait for 4-8 weeks after recovery from COVID symptoms before getting the vaccine or follow the doctor’s advice.

CONTRAINDICATION for this vaccine – means vaccination is not advised for these people

  1. Persons with history of:
    • Anaphylactic or allergic reaction to a previous dose of COVID-19 vaccine
    • Immediate or delayed-onset anaphylaxis or allergic reaction to vaccines or injectable therapies, pharmaceutical products, food-items etc.
  2. Pregnancy & Lactation:
    • Pregnant & Lactating women have not been part of any COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial so far. Therefore, women who are pregnant or not sure of their pregnancy;
    • and lactating women should not receive COVID-19 vaccine at this time
  3. Provisional / temporary contraindications:
    • In these conditions, COVID-19 vaccination is to be deferred for 4-8 weeks after recovery
    • Persons having active symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
    • SARS-COV-2 patients who have been given anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma
    • Acutely unwell and hospitalized (with or without intensive care) patients due to any illness

ADVERSE EVENT FOLLOWING IMMUNIZATION (AEFI) or COMMON SIDE EFFECTS

Some common side effects that can be experienced after getting the COVID-19 vaccine include:

  • Pain or swelling at the injection site
  • Mild headaches
  • Mild fever
  • Irritability

These are of transient nature and disappear within a day or two. If not, consult the doctor.

PRECAUTIONS AFTER VACCINATION

It is absolutely necessary that everyone who has received the COVID-19 vaccine should continue to follow the COVID-19 appropriate behaviour i.e., mask, social/physical distancing and hand sanitization to protect themselves and those around from spreading the infection.

Theme for World Immunization Week 2021 has been – VACCINES BRING US CLOSER

Indeed, for over two centuries, vaccines have protected us against diseases that threaten lives and prohibit our development. With their help, we can progress without the burden of diseases like smallpox and polio, which cost humanity hundreds of millions of lives.

Vaccines are a definitely a critical new tool in the battle against COVID-19. Safe and effective vaccines will be a game changer: but for the foreseeable future we must continue wearing masks, physically distancing and avoiding crowds. 


Together, we can end the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve a healthier world for all
!

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