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"COVID19 vaccination - FAQs part 2"

As the country gears up to fight another wave of COVID-19 infections, the Government of India in the current phase has made COVID vaccinations available for all adults aged above 45 years from 1st April, 2021. Additionally, the government has sent out a circular which advises eligible companies to set up workplace vaccination drives. While this news is readily available to everyone, there are always a few doubts and questions regarding such important matters.

Below are a few more of the most frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccination process:

Who is eligible?

Taking into account the recent surge of cases, from 11th April, 2021, the government began with vaccinations for those above the age of 45 years. Now, from 1st May, 2021, citizens above 18 years of age will be eligible for the vaccine as well.

Why was the age limit reduced to 18 years now?

The government's initial goal was to vaccinate citizens who were at the highest risk of infection. However, when the recent second wave of COVID-19 shook the world, it was decided that it is in every legal adult's best interest to be vaccinated at the earliest, in an effort to curb the spread of the infection across age groups. 

Who is not eligible for vaccination?

Children below the age of 18 years, pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding their child, women who are not sure if they are pregnant at the particular time of vaccination.

Why workplace vaccinations now?

As stated by the circular, a sizeable chunk of the working population of the country is aged 45+ years, and are at a higher risk of infection than their younger colleagues once the workplaces reopen. Vaccinations at the workplace will help these professionals feel at ease.

When will vaccinations at workplaces begin?

Such centres have been launched across states/Union Territories from 11th April, 2021. The government mentions that it has asked the relevant state authorities to discuss the details with the employers and management of both government and private sector enterprises in preparation to launch the vaccination drive.

Which offices can have vaccination centres?

Offices having 100+ willing and eligible employees can set up their on-site vaccination centres. This rule has been put in place to reduce wastage and optimize the supply of vaccines to the sites.

Who decides the eligibility of a workplace for setting up a vaccination centre?

A District Task Force (DTF) chaired by the District Magistrate of the concerned state and an Urban Task Force (UTF) chaired by the Municipal Commissioner are the deciding authorities. A senior staff member will be chosen by each eligible company to be the Nodal officer.

What is the Nodal Officer's role?

The Nodal Officer will be the intermediary between the company, the government authorities and the vaccination team. The officer will also facilitate the entire process of vaccination at the site such as the registration of beneficiaries and making sure physical & IT infrastructure are operational.

Are these centres safe to attend?

Each office centre will be put in contact with health professionals and registered clinics close to the centre, and the drive will be conducted by these trained medical professionals. This is to ensure the employees' safety and to make sure the correct procedures and protocols are followed during the vaccination drive.

Can relatives of eligible personnel take the vaccine?

No relatives, regardless of their own eligibility, cannot take the vaccine at the office sites. The notification states "no outsiders including eligible family members will be allowed for vaccination at CVC (COVID Vaccination Centre) at Work Place'"

What is the registration process for eligible beneficiaries?

As is the common practice for now, all eligible beneficiaries can register through the government's CoWIN platform. This process will be overseen by the chosen Nodal Officer. Additionally, on-the-spot registration facilities will also be made available for eligible employees of the company.

Are the workplaces undertaking vaccination registered anywhere?

Yes, all eligible companies have to register on the CoWIN platform as well. The name of the company must not be abbreviated, so that clarity is maintained. Vaccination sites should consist of three aspects: Waiting rooms, Vaccination areas and Observation rooms. These could either be set up in pre-existing permanent structures, or other stable structures such as enclosed shelters could be created. However, temporary tents and camps are not allowed.

Can a person/employee refuse to take the vaccine?

Yes, the choice to take the vaccine remains with the person/employee.

Can a company choose the vaccine brand?

No, the choice of vaccine brand is not available at this time. All vaccines are subject to the availability of supplies.

Who is to be prioritized in the scenario of limited supply?

Frontline workers, people with chronic conditions, and people above the age of 60 years.

Is it guaranteed that the employee who was vaccinated will not get infected with COVID-19?

He/she may still get infected, but severe illness is prevented.

Will he/she not transmit the virus?

Due to the risk of asymptomatic COVID-19 infection, they may transmit the virus. That’s the reason for the need to continue social distancing and the usage of face masks.

Can the vaccine give positive test results to the tests done for COVID-19 detection?

No, this is not the case.

Who needs to take caution while being vaccinated?

People on any blood thinning medication should be cautious.

Can a person who previously had COVID infection take the vaccine?

Yes, the person can take the vaccine 8 weeks after recovery.

If I am not sure whether I am pregnant or not, can I get the vaccine?

No, if there is a chance for pregnancy, it is better not to get the vaccine until you are sure that you are not pregnant.

What are the usual symptoms experienced after vaccination?

  • Injection site pain, redness
  • Malaise
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Cold/cough
  • Fever
  • Body pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Which medicine can be taken for the mild symptoms after vaccination?

An appropriate dose of Paracetamol can be taken to alleviate mild symptoms.

What are the available vaccine brands?

COVAXIN and COVISHIELD are the two brands currently being used in COVID vaccination in India.

The dosage pattern followed is - 2 doses 4 weeks apart for COVAXIN, and 2 doses 6 to 8 weeks apart for COVISHIELD.

Aditya Prakash Swain is an adaptable and dynamic Digital Media Consultant responsible for content marketing strategy, conducting thorough research on industry-related topics, generating ideas for new content types and enhancing brands digital presence.