India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive is progressing at a rapid pace. To date, more than 6-crore people have got vaccinated in the country.
On 1st April 2021, the third-phase of COVID-19 vaccination will begin in India. Until March, all people above the age of 60 and people above the age of 45 with comorbidities were getting vaccinated, but from 1st April, a comorbidity certificate will not be required for people above the age of 45.
In the meanwhile, several cases have been reported wherein, people are still getting infected by Coronavirus, even after receiving the first dose of vaccine. A few people contracted the virus even after getting the second dose. Many people have started evading (avoiding) their masks after getting the first dose of the vaccine.
This has created a lot of confusion among the citizens. People are still wondering that whether they should get vaccinated or not? Is the vaccine really effective? Will they die after getting vaccinated? So, let us clear all your doubts/confusion related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Common doubts related to COVID-19 vaccine
1. People are getting infected/dying after getting the first shot. Should I worry?
The main purpose of the COVID-19 vaccine is to prevent death and clinically severe disease due to the virus. The combination of two doses builds an immunity that is mostly capable of preventing death and severe disease.
The first vaccine dose, which is also referred to as the priming dose, starts developing immunity by two weeks, yet the first dose is not strong enough. So, the second dose, which is referred to as a booster dose, is needed to build a strong immune response, two weeks after getting the shot. Still, a mild infection might occur in few cases.
In the current generation of systemic vaccines, which are administered by injecting into muscles, the systemic immunity gets evoked, once the virus enters the body. So, it may not prevent infections, by alone itself. The mucosal vaccines (vaccines that can be taken by inhaling or oral means) are potentially capable of preventing and fighting infection since they produce secretory antibodies (IgA) for building immunity.
Currently, no such vaccine (mucosal) is available. So, we have to stick to the injective ones.
So, a person can get infected or die due to Coronavirus infection, even after getting the first dose, due to the above-mentioned reasons. But this doesn’t mean that the vaccine is a failure. In a broader aspect, it urges us to take two doses of vaccine and protecting ourselves through masks, physical distancing, washing hands, and avoiding crowds.
Overall, immunity against the COVID-19 infection fully develops two weeks after the second dose. Hence, people can fall sick/contract the virus until the immunity is fully achieved.
2. Will I get COVID-19 infection even after getting both doses?
Yes, you can still get infected by COVID-19, even after getting both doses. For understanding this, you need to think from the point of view of a virus. A virus can enter your body because it doesn’t know that whether you are vaccinated or not? But as soon as the virus enters your body, it will get detected by the immune system.
As you have taken both the doses and your immunity is fully developed, the immune system will fight with the virus, and hence the virus won’t thrive longer in your body, neither it will cause any damage.
So, even if you test positive for COVID-19 in the meanwhile, you will still stay asymptomatic or maybe get some mild symptoms.
This is why you still need to wear masks and follow the COVID-19 precautions even after getting both doses.
3. Now that I have got vaccinated, do I need to wear a mask?
Yes, you need to wear a mask and follow all the necessary precautions, even after getting vaccinated. If you don’t wear a mask, the virus can still infect you (with mild or no symptoms). In the time period where your body fights with the virus, your body can act as a carrier for the virus, and in-turn the virus can get transmitted to people surrounding you.
So, as long as the virus is circulating freely, you need to wear a mask. It is only when there is strong, consistent evidence available that the virus is no longer in circulation, you can move around without masks.
4. Are the vaccines in India effective against the variants?
Currently, both the vaccines which are available in India, i.e., the Oxford AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin are effective against variants found in Britain. For the South African variant, the evidence is still accumulating and its effectiveness is uncertain.
The Covishield vaccine has the ‘vaccine escape’ property. So, there is uncertainty with respect to the South African variant.
Most of the variants/mutations happen in the spike protein of the virus, which acts as a key for the virus to enter the human cells. Currently available vaccines only target the spike protein of the virus.
The matter of concern here is that the vaccines were manufactured for the original virus, but their effectiveness against the variants deviates highly.
Yet, a vaccinated person’s body will react in a much better way against the variants, than the unvaccinated person. So, it is better to get vaccinated, rather than staying unvaccinated.
5. For developing herd immunity, how many people need to be vaccinated in India?
Currently, there is no specific herd immunity threshold (HIT) for the vaccines. Herd immunity covers a large chunk of the population and not each individual in that array. If we assume that 70% of the population has attained HIT, yet 30% of people still remain vulnerable.
It is only when 70% of the population develops the immunity that blocks the circulation of the virus, then 30% population remains safe. But herd immunity is next to impossible to be measured in the lab. Even if 3-5% of the population moves out of the country, then the herd immunity gets deviated largely.
6. When will younger kids get vaccinated?
As of now, vaccine trials have been done on people above 18 years of age only, and no vaccine is available for younger kids/children. Yet, recently the BioNTech/Pfizer has announced vaccine trials for children under 12 years to, infants as young as 6 months. So, we have to wait for a while till the vaccine’s trials begin and its safety gets properly tested.
In India, several states have started/re-opened their schools. There is a vast difference between the western and Indian schooling systems. Most of the Indian schools remain crowded.
So, the children might contract the virus easily, and they can also act as carriers for the virus, and infect others including friends, family members, and especially their grandparents.
That’s why vaccinating children is necessary. It is expected that a vaccine for young kids might be available in the coming few months, but there is no specific date/period available.
Source: India Today
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