COVID-19 vaccine - Answers to your questions
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COVID-19 vaccine - Answers to your questions

Love Matters India organised five youth consultations across the country on the Coronavirus Pandemic. In these consultations, concerns and challenges caused by the pandemic were discussed with college students. Lockdown, school/college closures, illness in the family, financial difficulties and vaccine hesitancy featured in the discussion. Love Matters also compiled a list of questions young people had on their minds with regard to the pandemic. On this page, we are publishing answers to the questions asked during the consultations about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Are the available vaccines safe?

Yes, all the vaccines undergo several rounds of testing by scientists before being launched for the public. Even after the launch, the vaccines undergo continuous and intense safety monitoring. The Coronavirus vaccine has now been taken by over 30 crore people in India so far, including our Prime Minister and other senior leaders of the country, with minimal side effects. Worldwide also vaccination has been taken by millions of people. In many countries the infection rate has gone really low and the restrictions have been lifted as a significant percent of their population has been vaccinated. The vaccination is the only way to ensure that the Coronavirus pandemic can be controlled for good. 

Why are young children, who do not go out anywhere, getting corona?

Covid 19 is a contagious disease (viral infection). It spreads from one person to another. If an adult in the house has caught the virus (with or without any symptoms), the children can also catch the infection. There is also a minor chance of catching the infection if they touch anything that has the virus on its surface - for eg: vegetables brought from the vendor or an infected courier package etc. However, according to global data, in children the disease is known to be milder. Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all.

A single dose vaccine is being available in other countries, so why has the government not brought a single dose vaccine here?

The Indian vaccination programme has begun with two vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, which are double dose vaccinations. Both these vaccines are produced within the country and thus are quicker to procure, supply and administer within the country.

The single dose vaccines such as Moderna, Sputnik Light and Johnson & Johnson are not produced in India and so their availability is dependent on imports. The government is already in talks with these companies to bring single dose vaccines also to India. But since the global demand for vaccines is very high, it may be some time before these vaccines come to India. Currently, the single dose vaccine is likely to be available in India by 2022.

Why is anyone who is taken to a hospital and vaccinated, dying?

It's not like that. Let’s talk about the Covid 19 infection first. The Covid 19 infection has different impacts on different people. For most (over 80 percent population) it is a very mild infection and only about 10-20 percent people need hospitalisation. Out of this about 3-5 people need intensive care. Often Covid 19 symptoms and disease is severe for people with other critical health problems such high blood pressure or asthma. In such cases, a Coronavirus infection becomes very serious and needs hospitalisation.

In other words, only critical cases require hospitalisation in the first place. Also, patients arrive at the hospital at a very later stage, without consulting a doctor in the first few days of the infection (often trying home remedies only). This makes the situation more critical when they arrive at the hospital.

So the cause of death is not hospital admission but pre-existing health conditions or delay in seeking medical attention. So it is very important that anyone showing symptoms of Coronavirus is tested as early as possible so that the right treatment can begin in time.

Now let’s talk about the vaccine. The Covid 19 vaccine, just like any other vaccine (like polio, tetanus etc) has a few side effects such as fever, body pain, which go away on their own after a few days. Children also get these side effects when they get vaccinated during childhood. Only one in a million of cases gets a stronger side effect that causes serious illness or death. In India, fewer than five serious illness cases (caused by vaccines) were recorded after over 60 million doses. So the vaccine is safe and does not lead to hospitalisation or death for over 99 percent of the people.

The Covid 19 vaccination is for our safety and it decreases the ill effects of Covid-19. However, it takes some time to build the immunity/makes us strong to fight the infection.

Does taking the vaccine make you sick and lead to death?

When a person receives a vaccine shot, for eg: DPT or Polio, there can be some fever, body ache, lethargy for a day or so. Same is true with Covid-19 vaccine too. Some of us might get fever, body aches for a day or two. Some people may not see any side effects at all. Each person's body reacts slightly differently. Getting fever or sick is a sign that our body is reacting positively to the vaccine and we are getting stronger to fight the disease, when infected in future. Vaccines are meant to protect us from the disease, not make us sick. Only one in a million of cases gets a stronger side effect that can cause serious illness or death. In India, fewer than five serious illness cases (caused by the vaccine) were recorded after over 60 million doses. So the vaccine is safe and does not lead to hospitalisation or death for over 99 percent of the people.

When a person dies because of Corona, why is no one allowed to meet him?

The Corona virus infection spreads from one person to another through respiratory droplets that can pass from one person to another during talking, sneezing, coughing or touching surfaces where these droplets may have landed like our hand or clothes. The virus is also present in the saliva, phlegm or blood of an infected person. Even after the death of a person, the virus is present in their body and can spread to another person if there is close contact.

 This is the reason why there are restrictions on being in close contact with dead bodies if the death has been caused by a Coronavirus infection. Even those conducting the funerals have to protect themselves by wearing special protective clothes. As per the current guidelines. relatives are allowed to see the dead with adequate protection but touching/hugging/kissing is not allowed. Often when such protective clothing is not available, hospitals may not allow visitors to see the dead body at all. Also, a quick cremation is preferred to avoid any further spread of infection.

There is a rumour in the village that one vaccine is ok and the other vaccine is faulty.

This is not true. Both vaccines work fine in preventing the Covid-19 infection as well as prevent a person from going into a severe state of the disease or death.

How long does the effect of the vaccine last?

The research is ongoing in this regard. While the current COVID-19 vaccines will likely last for at least about a year, they probably won’t offer lifelong protection, as with some of the vaccinations we get during our childhood, such as for measles.

During the previous lockdown, doctors and nurses were helping us, but this time why is everyone careless?

It's not like that. During April-May when the second wave of the virus hit us, we were short of resources such as oxygen cylinders, injections, hospital beds and medicines because the number of people severely suffering from Covid-19 was higher than the number of people our health system is able to manage. So the pressure on the doctors and other medical personnel was very high. Even under that pressure, they worked continuously to help the patients. 

There were reports of doctors not going home for days and working very long shifts. However, it was the pressure on the health system which was very high. As the number of cases decreased, the health system also began to cope better. 

Finally, while the disease only lasts a couple of weeks for most of us, the doctors and other health personnel have been dealing with this for over one and a half years. They are also humans, with families like us, let's not forget this.

What is the exact number of people who have died of corona?

It is difficult to tell the exact numbers because the numbers are changing every day. The official number of deaths caused by the pandemic in India till 29 June 2021 stood at 397637 though the actual number could be higher due to under-reporting.

More effective vaccines are being given in other countries, so why not in our country?

The COVID-19 vaccine introduced in India is as effective as any vaccine developed by other countries. Various phases of vaccine trials are undertaken to ensure its safety and efficacy. Also, the vaccines currently available in the country are manufactured locally ensuring we have a local supply. While the government is talking to foreign companies to increase the variety of vaccines available in India, dependence solely on foreign vaccines could make the wait and the process much longer. Furthermore, the Covishield vaccine in India is the same as the Astrazeneca vaccine in the UK.

What is the need for a vaccine if there is no disease?

A vaccine is different from a medicine. While a medicine cures a disease, the purpose of a vaccine is to prevent the disease. It is always taken to ensure that we do not get the disease. So a vaccine is taken even when we do not have a disease. If we take the Coronavirus vaccine, it will ensure that we do not catch the infection in the future or even if we do, the impact is not too severe. If everyone in an area/locality gets the vaccine, there will be no new infections and the pandemic can then come under control.

Why do I get a fever or get sick after taking the vaccine?

Getting a fever or a body ache or feeling unwell is a symptom that your body is reacting positively to the vaccine and is developing the capability (making antibodies) to fight the disease. A fever or a body pain is a very common side effect of the vaccine and goes away in a few days. This is similar to the side effects children get when they are vaccinated for measles or whooping cough in their childhood.

Corona has been completely controlled in some countries, so what is the reason for it not coming under control in India?

India is the second most populated country in the world, with a population of 136.64 crores and counting. With this huge population density, where people are living close to each other in many areas, it is easy for communicable diseases like Coronavirus to spread easily. Hence it is taking time to control this pandemic. However, vaccination is one positive way to fight Coronavirus. The greater the number of people vaccinated, the lesser the spread of Coronavirus.

Is the vaccine safe for women who have periods?

It is absolutely safe for women to get vaccinated during their periods. No side effects have been reported.

Will there be a third wave of Corona? And what is the reason for that?

No one can confirm if there will be a third wave and if it does when it will occur. Whether a third wave will happen will largely depend on how strictly we follow the COVID-19 rules, such as always wearing masks in public, not attending public gatherings, maintaining distance in public and regularly sanitising our hands. 

This will help keep the number of new infections in check. It is also important to get vaccinated as soon as possible so that more and more people have protection against the disease and so will either not fall sick or would at least not need hospitalisation. So it all comes down to how well we follow the covid-19 norms.

Why does a person die from corona only in the hospital, why not at home or somewhere outside?

The Covid 19 infection has different impacts on different people. For most (80 percent population) it is a very mild infection and only about 10-20 people need hospitalisation. Out of this about 3-5 people need intensive care. Often Covid 19 symptoms and disease is severe for people with other critical health problems such high blood pressure or asthma. In such cases, a Coronavirus infection becomes very serious and needs hospitalisation.

In other words, only critical cases require hospitalisation in the first place. Also, patients arrive at the hospital at a very later stage, without consulting a doctor in the first few days of the infection (often trying home remedies only). This makes the situation more critical when they arrive at the hospital.

So the cause of death is not hospital admission but pre-existing health conditions or delay in seeking medical attention. So it is very important that anyone showing symptoms of Coronavirus is tested as early as possible so that the right treatment can begin in time.

How will everyone be prepared to get the vaccine?

India has a very strong vaccination programme and a very solid track record of getting children vaccinated for all the major diseases. In 2011, India eliminated the polio disease from the country because of all children under the age of five receiving the polio vaccination. So, we have people and teams trained to convince people to take the vaccination.

Governments, NGOs, famous people, religious leaders are all also convincing people to get their vaccination. So gradually, we should be able to get a significant number of people in the country vaccinated. Furthermore, we all have to play a part in reducing the myths and rumours about vaccination, sharing scientific and reliable information with people around us and motivating and leading people by example.

Can we use any medicine for Corona disease, if we are in the initial stage?

There is currently no cure for Coronavirus infection. Medicines are only available to reduce the symptoms of the disease. In most cases, most people recover at home without any need for any specific medicines except Crocin. But the most important thing here is to consult a doctor.

The doctor will be able to assess your symptoms and decide whether you need any medicine, in what quantity and for how long. It is very important to reiterate that medicines should not be taken without doctor’s advice as it can lead to unknown complications that might be hard and difficult to manage later. So whether it is Corona virus or any other infection, please do not take medicines without doctor’s advice.

What arrangements have been made for the third wave of Corona?

Though there is no certainty about a third wave, the government. is gearing up for the situation by focusing on building infrastructure like hospitals and getting ample stocks of medicines, oxygen cylinders and injections etc needed to fight the disease.

The government is working to estimate the number of persons in general and children in particular who are likely to get infected. It is also trying its best to get everyone vaccinated. The greater number of people vaccinated, the lesser would be the impact of any future resurgence of the virus.

Testing capacity for Covid-19 too has been increased from around 40000 a day to one lakh as of 18 June. The government is now making arrangements to set up new RT-PCR laboratories in addition to setting up mobile labs and allowing self-testing at home. This would increase the testing capacity and help the government test and track more positive cases in a short period.

The government has also set up permanent oxygen plants in many hospitals across the country and also introduced various policies to encourage private oxygen generation. A major part of the fight against COVID-19 also lies with the public who need to try and get vaccinated as soon as possible and follow the COVID-appropriate behaviour even after vaccination.

Those who do not take the vaccine will not get government facilities? Is this true or rumour?

No, these are rumours. The vaccine is currently not mandatory for everyone in our country. However, you must get vaccinated because it will help control the coronavirus pandemic and get our economy, education and general life back on track.

I have registered for the vaccine, but then heard that some scientist were advising against the vaccine. Now I am confused whether to take it or not?

No, these are rumours. Please do not believe in WhatsApp forwards or fake news. Get your information from government websites like https://www.mohfw.gov.in/covid_vaccination/vaccination/faqs.html. https://www.cowin.gov.in or reputed newspapers. All the information is available in Hindi and English. You must get vaccinated because it will help control the coronavirus pandemic and get our economy, education and general life back on track. So if you have registered, please do not miss your appointment. Go and get yourself vaccinated.

I took the vaccine in April, when it was meant only for the 45-year-old age group. But I was not 45 then. Is there any risk for me?

Please do not worry. Vaccines do not differ from age to age. It is the same vaccine, which had earlier opened for people who were 45 and above, to protect them first from Covid-19 as the disease is riskier for that age group. During that period doctors, and other health personnel, many of whom were under 45 had been vaccinated to prevent them from the risk as well from managing patients.  

Those who have had corona, if they take the vaccine by mistake, will there be any risk?

If you have had Covid-19, you still need to take the vaccine. After recovery from Covid-19 the body develops some natural immunity or protection against the virus, but it is still unclear how strong that immunity is or how long that immunity is going to last. So it is important to take the vaccine. The vaccine will help in developing a strong immune response against the disease. You can take the vaccine 4-8 weeks after recovery from the infection.


Should people below 18 years of age take the vaccine or not?

Right now the scientists are conducting clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of the vaccine on the kids/people under 18. The researchers are still working on finding the right dose for people below 18 years of age. The vaccines are thus currently not available for anyone under the age of 18.

Have a doubt? Share with Love Matters (LM) on our Facebook page. If you have a specific question, please ask LM experts on our discussion forum. We are also on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. 

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