Experts say employers play a major role in encouraging employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and should strongly encourage it among their employees. Getting 70% or more of the public vaccinated or recovered from the COVID-19 virus is critical to containing the disease and creating herd immunity.
In this webinar by ekincare, our speaker Dr. Lavanya Aribandi talked about the role of vaccination in driving up immunity and getting society as well as workplaces back to normal.
As we all know, there are more than 100 million COVID-19 positive cases with more than 4.5 thousand deaths all over the globe. Out of this, about one-tenth of the cases were accounted for in India with over 1.5 thousand deaths. As the vaccination drive has started recently in India, there are two vaccines that are approved for vaccination of the people.
Let's go into details about the COVID-19 vaccination, the underlying mechanism of vaccination, the kinds of vaccines that are available and how they work, other practical aspects, and logistics.
During any infection, for immunization to happen or for the person to get immune to that particular virus or organism, we need to introduce the disease-causing aspect of that organism into the human body that is enough to prime the body to produce antibodies, but not enough to give the disease. This is the underlying concept of immunization. We don't introduce either disease-causing that particular protein of the virus or killed virus in the human body. That way it doesn't cause the disease, but it primes the body to produce antibodies. And it also elicits certain memory in the human body. Hence, a few days or a few months later, when the human body is exposed to the real virus from society, the human body then recognizes this because of the previous memory and produces antibodies right away and prevents the body from getting the disease. Or even if the disease is caused, it will not be severe. So the same concept is used for COVID-19 vaccination.
So whenever we talk about any vaccine, we consider two things. One is efficacy and the other one is safety.
Efficacy means whenever you give a vaccine, is this vaccine producing enough bodies or enough immunity to be effective against that disease? Is it stopping the disease? That is efficacy.
Safety is, as the name suggests, is the vaccine safe enough that we are not causing more harm or we are not causing other conditions that would affect the human body and give long-term damage or adverse consequences?
According to the details so far, both the vaccines are safe and giving good results.
Also, people who are on steroids and immunosuppressive medicines, may not be having optimal immune response simply because of the fact that immunosuppressive medications and steroids, do decrease the immune response because usually these are given for autoimmune conditions when a person is having antibodies against their own issues. That's when these medicines are given or in the case of transplant patients, they should not reject the foreign organ given from someone or some other person. So due to these immunosuppressive medications, these people naturally develop suboptimal antibodies.
As we already said, both the vaccines are given 4 weeks apart and it is an intramuscular injection. Currently, the government is doing this vaccination drive in health care facilities. It is not allowing people to apply vaccines outside of health care facilities. So when the person who is already registered goes, they give answers to some simple questions and then take the vaccine. Post that, 30 minutes of observation is done in health care facilities just to make sure that the person is okay for 30 minutes.
Appropriate documentation and identification will be required and proper guidelines are to be followed. Also, the same vaccine has to be given as the second dose.
Another point is that at this point, a person cannot choose between the 2 vaccines because we have such a limited supply of vaccines. So, whatever is available at that facility at that point and whatever the government has supplied, people need to take that only.
Tenderness, pain, warmth, redness, itching, swelling or bruising where the injection is given, Feeling tired (fatigue,)Chills or feeling feverish, Headache, Feeling sick (nausea), Joint pain or muscle ache, Fever, Flu-like symptoms, such as high temperature, sore throat, runny nose, cough, and chills.
There are also a few questions that are commonly asked about this vaccination.
Definitely, they can refuse the vaccine. And there is no mandate that everyone who is offered should take the vaccine as it is completely an individual person's choice. The government is not mandating it. But at this point, all the data is suggesting that you will have many times more benefit from taking the vaccine than not taking the vaccine. So it is better to take a wise decision.
Obviously, everyone should take the vaccine. Of course, the person who goes out more will be at increased risk because they're exposed to more people. But definitely, everyone in the household should take the vaccine. Whoever is eligible for this, except kids and pregnant women, everyone should take vaccinated. Because when a person takes the vaccine, he is immunized. But, there is no surety that he will not get the infection. Getting the disease and getting an infection are two different things. You can still get infected with COVID-19, but you may not develop the disease because your body is fighting with this virus and there are enough antibodies so that you don't get the disease. So when you're carrying that virus, you may still transmit it to your family members. So everyone in the household should take.
If you consider the situation all over the globe, different countries are having different approaches. In India at this point, the thought is that health care workers should get it first because they are still at risk and are still treating COVID-19 patients. Next comes the front-end workers and then people with chronic medical conditions and people of age above 50 years. Then, of course, it will be rolled out for younger and healthy people too.
So basically here we are talking about the efficacy of the vaccine. If we talk about efficacy, the recent data said that it is more than 90 percent effective. That means it is effective and the person will not develop purposes. So you can be reasonably sure about not having at least severe illness that causes hospitalization and death.
Yes, for a few days, you may still have your body and your body's producing antibodies because you have a memory from previous vaccination. So you will not develop the disease, but you may get an infection with COVID-19. This data is still preliminary in the scientific studies. It is not completely sure that the person will not get infected, will not transmit the disease to others. As we get more data, maybe we'll be more sure.