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COVID vaccines: A comprehensive list of FAQs to clear doubts about the vaccines and immunisation drive

The Indian government has approved two Covid-19 vaccines by Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech. While most Indians are looking forward to participating in the largest vaccination drive in the country, fear-mongers and conspiracy theorists that include the opposition political parties and religious leaders of a particular community are provoking people against the vaccine. To counter the doubts and clear the air about vaccine and immunization program, the government has issued a FAQ list. The infomation has been shared on government channels including DD.

Will COVID-19 vaccine be given to everyone simultaneously?

No, the vaccine will be given in phases. The government of India has identified high-risk groups to be vaccinated on priority. The first to get the vaccine will be healthcare and frontline workers followed by the persons over 50 years of age and persons with comorbid conditions. After that, the vaccine will be made available for all others in need, followed by the rest of the population.

Will the vaccine be safe as it is being introduced in a short span of time?

There is a lot of fear around the timeline of the vaccine. In general, it takes years to develop a vaccine, but in this emergency use of the vaccine was allowed. It needs to be noted that the vaccines will be introduced in the country only after the regulatory bodies clear the use based on safety and efficacy.

Is it mandatory to take the vaccine?

No, the government of India is not going to force anyone to take the vaccine. However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of Covid-19 vaccine for protecting oneself and limiting the spread of the disease.

Is it necessary for a COVID recovered person to take the vaccine?

Even if a person has recovered from Covid, it is advisable to receive a complete schedule of the vaccine irrespective of the history of infection, as it will help in developing a strong immune response.

Can a person having COVID-19 (confirmed/suspected) infection be vaccinated?

Those who have the infection should defer from taking the vaccine for 14 days after symptoms resolution as they may increase the risk of spreading the virus to others at the vaccination site.

Out of the multiple vaccines available, how is one or more vaccine chosen for administration?

The Drug Regulator examines the safety and efficacy data from clinical trials of vaccine candidates before granting of the license. Hence, all licensed COVID-19 vaccines will have comparable safety and efficacy. However, it must be ensured that the entire schedule of vaccination is completed by only one type of vaccine, as different COVID-19 vaccines are not interchangeable. For example, if you took the first shot of Bharat Biotech vaccine, the next shot also has to be from the same vaccine.

Does India have the capacity to store COVID vaccine at 2 to 8°C and transport them at required temperature?

It has to be noted that India runs one of the largest immunization programmes in the world, catering to the vaccination needs of over 26 million newborns and 29 million pregnant women every year. The programme mechanisms are being strengthened to effectively cater to the country’s large and diverse population.

Will the vaccine introduced in India be as effective as the ones introduced in other countries?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine introduced in India will be as effective as any vaccine developed by other countries as various phases of vaccine trials are undertaken to ensure its safety and efficacy.

How will I know if I am eligible for vaccination?

Eligible beneficiaries will be informed through their registered mobile number regarding the Health Facility for vaccination and its scheduled time.

What documents are required for registration of eligible beneficiary?

Any of the below-mentioned ID with Photo may be produced at the time of registration:

  • Aadhaar/Driving License/Voter ID/PAN Card/Passport/ Job Card/Pension Document
  • Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of Ministry of Labour
  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)
  • Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs
  • Passbooks issued by Bank/Post Office
  • Service ID Card issued by Central/State Govt/Public Limited Companies

Can a person get the COVID-19 vaccine without registration?

No, registration is mandatory for COVID-19 vaccination. Only after registration, the information on the session site and time will be shared.

If a person is unable to produce Photo ID at the session site, will s/he be vaccinated?

Photo ID is a must for both registration and verification at the session site to ensure that the intended person is vaccinated.

How will the beneficiary receive information about the due date of vaccination?

Following online registration, the beneficiary will receive SMS on their mobile number about the due date, place and time of vaccination.

Will beneficiaries receive information on their vaccination status after completion?

Yes. On getting due doses of COVID-19 vaccine, the beneficiary will receive SMS on their mobile number. After all doses of vaccine are administered, a QR code-based certificate will also be sent on their number.

Are there any preventive measures and precautions that one needs to follow at the session site?

You must 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 subsequently feel any discomfort or uneasiness. Remember to continue following COVID Appropriate Behaviours like wearing of masks, maintaining hand sanitization and physical distancing (of 6 feet or Do Gaj).

What about the possible side effects from COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID 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 a mild fever, pain, etc. at the site of injection. States have been asked to start making arrangements to deal with any COVID-19 vaccine-related side effects.

If one is taking medicines for illnesses like Cancer, Diabetes, Hypertension, etc., can s/he take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Persons with one or more of these comorbid conditions are considered a high-risk category. They need to get COVID-19 vaccination.

Will the family of Healthcare providers/ Frontline workers also be given the vaccine?

Due to the limited vaccine supply in the initial phase, it will first be provided to people in priority groups. In subsequent phases, the vaccine will be made available to all others in need.

How many doses of the vaccine would have to be taken, and at what interval?

Two doses of vaccine, 28 days apart, need to be taken by an individual to complete the vaccination schedule.

When would antibodies develop after taking the dose?

Protective levels of antibodies are generally developed two weeks after receiving the 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Several ministries and departments are working in sync to ensure everyone who needs and wants to get the Covid-19 vaccine gets it in the coming months. It is advised not to believe the fear-mongers and conspiracy theorists.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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