Jab we met

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The COVID-19 vaccination for the 18-44 age group is finally here. And while some have already taken the jab or booked their slots, for others it’s a ‘No’ for now, discovers NT KURIOCITY

RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT KURIOCITY

When the pandemic hit, everyone eagerly wished for the vaccine and now that it’s out, one’s mind is still not at peace. However, amidst all the rumours and doubts, many from the age group of 45 and above have already taken the benefit of the vaccine and now it’s the turn of age group of the 18-44 years.

But ever since registration for the 18-plus section began, getting a slot has proved to be quite a challenge for many, as slots get filled within seconds on the site.

And so, people have been trying various methods to ensure that they get a slot at the earliest.

Athulya VM and her sister for instance, tried booking slots from two different systems. “When slots opened initially, my sister and I tried for hours but with no luck. On May 18, we tried and first got somewhere in Sankhali. We tried again after a while and got in GMC for May 21,” says Athulya.

Austin Dias who got his slot for May 22 meanwhile chose a different tactic. “Since the vaccination dates were May 19, 20, 21, and 22, I thought of a simple logic – I clicked directly on the last day that is May 22 as I figured that most people would be trying for earlier dates,” he says.

‘Jab’ taken

Those who have been fortunate to get a slot have already taken their first shot and, despite the side effects, are happy. “I was scared before taking the vaccine but once it was done, I felt good. Also, I didn’t have any side effects, just pain in my hand,” says Sheena Cecilia Pereira.

Franklina Dias who took the vaccine on May 15 also had sore arms till May 19. “I felt nauseous till Monday but this subsided. I also felt weak and had body aches for two days,” she says.

Assistant professor from S S Dempo College of Commerce and Economics, Cujira, Amit Naik who has also taken his first dose admits that while he initially felt extremely exhausted post the jab, he now feels refreshed and more energetic.

No vaccine, please!

But a section of people still have their doubts about the vaccine and prefer not to take it for now.

“I don’t want to take the vaccine because I’m scared of injections. Also, I have gone through the RTPCR and Antigen test at the government centres and many of the times they were very harsh. Plus, the vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get COVID-19 and I’ve heard a lot of conflicting reports from doctors and experts so I prefer not to take it,” says Darlane  Fernandes (name changed).

Harish Tamankar too agrees that there are so many rumours about the vaccine’s side effects that he is finding it difficult to trust the vaccine. “Sometimes I feel that they might give a different vaccine for common people and a different one for VIPs like ministers, etc. I have also heard about people dying after getting vaccinated,” he says, adding that the government or officials should give a guarantee stating that no person shall die due to any side effects of the vaccine.

Brinsley Almeida too has decided not to take the vaccine because firstly, he says, the results of the third stage trials are not out and even if one takes the vaccine there is a chance of getting infected again.

Seeya Pandit too has heard a lot of stories about the vaccines which are “really scary”. “Even after taking the two doses of the vaccine, people get COVID-19. So what’s the point of standing in queues for hours and wasting our time in trying to register our name online for the vaccine slot. Also, the vaccine is just to boost the immunity. So, if the need of the hour is to have the immunity then why doesn’t the government give us some tablets?” she says adding that actually the need of the hour is not only to boost the immunity but also to boost humanity

around the world.

Another lady states that she and her mother will not be taking the vaccine as they both have allergic reactions to several things including some medical drugs. “Being a senior citizen, she also has several health issues including diabetes. Hence, we’re avoiding the vaccine,” says the daughter.

Apart from these, there are some who don’t have any concerns but are just waiting for the rush to stop.

Consultant obstetrics and gynaecology, Manipal Hospitals Goa, Shivani Jain busts some myths and clears some doubts about the vaccines

Some people believe that the vaccine can cause COVID-19.

No, the vaccine does not lead to COVID-19 infection. Rather, it increases our immunity and decreases chances of infection or severe infection in case of contact with COVID-19 virus. COVID-19 infection soon after taking the vaccine occurs due exposure to the virus a few days before taking the vaccine or due to exposure to the virus while travelling to or at the vaccination site. Covaxin is an inactivated virion-based vaccine which basically means that it is made out of killed virus and hence it does not replicate and cause infection. Covishield and Sputnik V vaccines are made out viral protein or gene which is delivered through a harmless adenovirus, which makes the body produce antibodies against the COVID-19 virus, but since these vaccines contain only some portion of coronavirus, they cannot cause COVID-19 disease.

There is a tendency to also believe that once you’ve had COVID-19, you won’t get it again. So why take the vaccine?

It is possible to get COVID-19 infection again which may be due to decreased antibodies over time or due to new strains of coronavirus. Antibodies due to COVID-19 infection do not give lifelong immunity. Different studies seem to indicate that the immunity lasts for 60 days to six months. Recommendations for vaccine protocols are made keeping in mind recent evidence. The current recommendation in India is to get vaccinated three months after COVID-19 infection.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

Common side effects are headache, body aches, fever and pain or inflammation at the site of the injection. These are mild side effects and indicate that the body is mounting an immune response against the virus. The often-dreaded side effects of blood clots being formed are reported to be around 0.61 cases per million which is minuscule compared to weighing advantages of taking the vaccine compared to the risks. For example, the risk of getting blood clots is around 10 per cent in non-ICU patients and increases to around 28 per cent in patients requiring ICU care due to COVID-19 infection.

Among the rumours doing the rounds are that long-term effects of the vaccine could cause infertility in women, etc.

The vaccine delivery models have been used in the past for other diseases as well and have no long-term effects. Infertility is caused either due to hormonal changes or due to structural problems in the genital tract, and both these changes are not caused by the immune response mounted by the vaccines. It is a myth that the vaccine causes infertility.

Which vaccine should one opt for?

All the vaccines have been made available for patients aged 18 years and above after substantial evidence that they are beneficial and have no major adverse effects. The option of choosing one vaccine over the other is a matter of informed choice. For example, those with a history of blood clotting may be advised to opt for Covaxin as blood clots are a rare side effect of Covishield. Keeping in mind the availability of vaccines it is wise not to delay vaccination and getting any one of the vaccines is better than getting no vaccine.

When should one avoid taking the vaccine?

Vaccines should be avoided in people who faced a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine or who are allergic to any known component of the vaccine. Currently the vaccines in India are not available for people under 18 years of age or pregnant women. Recently, COVID-19 vaccination has been approved for breastfeeding women in India.