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What to expect after the COVID-19 Vaccine

D Tejaswi

4 min read

You still need to protect yourself and others. The vaccine can reduce the severity of COVID-19 but it can’t prevent you or your loved ones from getting sick.

Registrations open for people in the 18 to 44-age bracket on the 28th of April. Don’t forget to get yourself registered for the vaccine on CO-WIN 2.0 portal and the Aarogya Setu app. The jab is mandatory for this age group and initially, no walk-ins are permitted.

You are fully vaccinated after the second dose.

The first shot of the vaccine, while important to produce the antibodies, wouldn’t be enough at protecting anyone from the pandemic. You should get the vaccine at a designated COVID vaccination centre. Get the same vaccine for the second dose.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recommends that you get the second dose of COVISHIELD between four to eight weeks. The second dose for COVAXIN can be taken between four to six weeks.

It takes two to three weeks for the vaccine to work.

As per experts at MoHFW, it takes at least 2-3 weeks after the second dose for the vaccine to take effect. As the vaccine is a cold virus or virus vector, it teaches and prepares the body to produce antibodies for the virus. Hence, it takes some time to build the arsenal of antibodies to handle any virus attacks.

Local irritation or local itch is very common at the injection site. But mild or serious reactions to the vaccination should always be evaluated by a healthcare professional.

The pandemic is not over after the vaccine.

The potential longevity and efficacy of immunization is still up for debate as the experts have a dearth of data for reaching statistically significant results. A study by Lancet says that the Oxford-Astrazeneca variant (COVISHIELD) would provide 67% reduction of risk while ICMR says Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN would have an interim efficacy of 78%. It is important to note that the third vaccine approved for emergency use in India, Sputnik V has an efficacy of 90% as per the same study by Lancet.

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You may experience some side effects after the vaccine.

Some individuals report redness, pain and a brief build-up of pressure in one ear immediately after the vaccine. Don’t panic if you notice immediate reactions such as swelling or difficulty breathing. Inform the healthcare workers at the vaccination centre.

According to Dr Sai Praveen Haranath, Pulmonologist, Apollo Hospitals, “Local irritation or local itch is very common at the injection site. But mild or serious reactions to the vaccination should always be evaluated by a healthcare professional.” A fever and muscle pain is also expected. Some people may get a fever beyond 24 hours that needs to be evaluated. Remember as each individual is different their bodies react differently. Most mild side effects from the vaccine will wane in a couple of days.

See a doctor for severe or persistent allergic reactions.

Some side effects may be indicative of blood clots, a full-fledged diagnosis by a medical professional is recommended. Watch out for these side effects:

  • Severe headache which doesn’t go away (even after taking a painkiller)
  • Painful, persistent swelling in the legs
  • Shortness of breath/painful compression of chest
  • Headache with disorientation and nausea with difficulty to speak
  • Persistent abdominal pain
The vaccine can provide limited protection against new variants of the virus.

The new variants of the virus are small changes and mutations in their genetic makeup. As per World Health Organization, the present vaccines are expected to provide some defense against the new variants. If the virus changes significantly, the vaccines can be changed within a short time to provide immunization.

You still need to wear a mask.

It takes time for the protection from the vaccine to kick in. To reach heard immunity about 50 to 80 % of our population would need to be vaccinated. It will take time to produce and distribute the vaccines. Researchers are still learning about the efficacy and longevity of the vaccine. So wear a mask because vaccinated individuals may still be asymptomatic spreaders.