New Delhi: According to the World Health Organisation, India continues to account for 95 per cent of COVID-19 cases and 93 per cent of deaths in the South-East Asia region, as well as 50 per cent of global cases and 30 per cent of global deaths. Experts feel that speeding up vaccination and following COVID appropriate behaviour are the two important keys to control the outbreak in the country. Banega Swasth India team speaks to Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital to answer frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccination – how to go about it, is it safe, should one really get vaccinated and who are the people who should avoid talking it. Here’s what he said:
Viewer Question: Can pregnant women take vaccines?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: The recommendation was not there initially for pregnant women because there were no studies conducted for that group, so the safety profile was not known. But now the authorities, gynaecologists have come out and said that the beneficial effect is far more than the risk in this group. So, now it is being recommended that everyone should get vaccinated, be it the pregnant women or lactating mothers. However, you cannot force these women to get vaccinated, it should be entirely unto them as studies are still not done. But I am sure, in coming weeks it will be done. In USA, they have done studies for Pfizer and found it to be beneficial even for expecting and lactating mothers.
Viewer Question: If one has consumed liquor in the evening, say about 100ml then can the person go for vaccination the next morning?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: Yes, you can take the COVID-19 vaccine. This recommendation of not taking it with alcohol actually came with Sputnik vaccine in Russia as they thought immunity is not that robust when you have a lot of drinks. But with 100ml it should not be a problem, obviously consumption should be limited.
Viewer Question: Can a person taking allergy shots for allergic asthma take the COVID vaccine?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: Asthmatic patients are not at risk from the vaccine. People who are allergic to the components of the vaccine should not supposed to take it. What one needs to know is that whenever they are going for the vaccine shot, they should clearly tell the doctor about their allergies so that the doctors are more careful while vaccinating those patients.
Viewer Question: Can a seizure patient take the COVID vaccine?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: A seizure is usually defined as a sudden alteration of behavior due to a temporary change in the electrical functioning of the brain. Seizure patients can take the COVID-19 vaccine. The only contradiction with COVID vaccines is when the person is allergic to its components from which the vaccine is made. Otherwise all other individuals, even the seizure patients can take the COVID19 vaccine because its benefits actually outpour the risk involved currently with the disease.
Viewer Question: Is it safe to take vaccination during your menstrual cycle?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: Yes, absolutely. It is a very common myth. People think during their menstrual cycle the immunity in their body is low therefore it should be avoided. However, there is nothing like that. Top authorities and gynaecologist society have cleared that COVID-19 vaccination and menstrual cycle has nothing in common as a result one can get vaccinated while they are menstrurating.
Viewer Question: Can a person on immunosuppressant take COVID-19 vaccine?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: Yes, they can take COVID19 vaccination. Because the vaccines in India are not made using the live virus, they are made using the dead virus. Therefore it is seen that they are reasonably safe even on people who are immune compromised.
Viewer Question: Can people with pacemaker take the vaccine?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: Since the start of the vaccination drive, it is being said that people with comorbidties should go and take the vaccine shot. People with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, all are at much more risk than anyone else for developing a severe disease. So, they are definitely the prime candidates for vaccination.
Viewer Question: If COVID-19 vaccines contain mild coronavirus, so should people isolate themselves as they are the carriers of the disease?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: No. The vaccines are made using the dead virus, it is done so that the human immune response can prepare itself to fight the actual disease if the need arises. So, it is untrue that one can get infected from the vaccination itself. Though we have seen cases in our country that people are getting infected with the virus after the vaccination but that is from other sources like vaccination centres or other contacts.
Viewer Question: Can a person who has thyroid take the vaccine?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: Definitely, all thyroid patients are allowed to take the vaccination.
Viewer Question: What are the drinking and smoking rules after the first jab of COVID19 vaccination?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: One can drink and smoke as usual. But limit the consumption, anyways smoking and drinking is not good for the health. We are also seeing how the COVID cases are rising day by day and we are seeing people with low immune system are developing a serious disease. These are all the factors which decrease your immunity and make your immune system unhealthy, so we should definitely avoid these risk factors.
Viewer Question: If a person is suffering from a skin disease, should they take the vaccine?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: If you have a tendency for allergies you just need to inform your doctor at the vaccination centre. So that they are more careful. There is no need to panic, remember mostly all people can get vaccinated, they just need to be careful about the components used in the vaccine and should know that they are not allergic to those.
Viewer Question: After vaccination can one continue with gym and jogging?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: Yes, absolutely. One just need to make sure all precautions are taken – maintain social distancing, wear a mask and follow all COVID appropriate behaviour. Remember one can still get infected even after taking the COVID vaccine. So, the key really is to take the precautions.
Viewer Question: Why do we need two doses of COVID vaccine and not one?
Dr Sutranjit Chatterjee: Basically, the first dose is where the antibodies are produced in the system to fight against the virus. The second shot is actually the dose that acts like a booster shot, which helps keeping the immunity alive for longer duration.
Viewer Question: Is it okay to not have side effects from COVID vaccine at all?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: Every body is different; everyone behaves differently to the vaccine. So, some people might get fever or headaches or soreness in their arms, some will not. If they don’t get the side-effects it does’t mean that the vaccine has not started to do its job or is not working.
Viewer Question: If you get COVID-19 after getting the first jab will the complications of the disease be low?
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee: So, once you get the first jab it means you are immunised to the virus to some extent, so the possibility of you developing a severe disease becomes low. Though there are no studies done in this regard, but it has been seen that people who are getting infected and have taken the first dose of vaccine are better off when compared to people who have not taken the vaccine.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.