April 1, 2021 11:26:55 am
AS many as 25 government facilities and 19 private centres are all geared up for the next phase of the Covid-19 vaccination drive, which begins on April 1 and has been further expanded to include all persons aged 45 years and above.
While GMSH-16 has two sites for the drive, PGI has three, two for its employees and one for the general public. “With the surge in cases in the city, the vaccine will help stop the spread of infection, and we want to motivate people above 45 to come forward to take the first dose of the vaccine, 9.30 am onwards,” shared Prof Surinder S. Pandav, Chairman, Covid-19 Vaccination Committee at PGIMER.
Talking about the many issues and questions related to the vaccine, Dr Vikas Bhutani, Director Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, said that the pandemic is changing rapidly and requires different strategies to maintain clinical preventive services, including immunization. “Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defence- the immune system, to recognise and fight off the viruses or bacteria they target,” adds the doctor.
Covishield, says Dr Bhutani, has an average efficacy of 70 per cent when two doses are administered 4-6 weeks apart. This data is from a meta-analysis (pooled analysis of multiple studies) of four Covishield trials in 11,636 patients out of which three trials were single blind and one double blind in three different countries. Covaxin phase-3 interim results show an efficacy of 81 per cent. This data is from one double blind study of 28,500 patients in India.
Better to get natural immunity?
Both this disease and the vaccine are new, says Dr Bhutani. It is still not clear how long protection lasts for those who get infected or those who are vaccinated. What we do know is that Covid-19 infection can cause variable presentations in different people and has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. Moreover, if you get Covid-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. So, getting the vaccine is a safer choice in such a scenario as the benefits outweigh the risk associated.
Word of Caution after vaccination
Being vaccinated, adds the doctor, does not mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk, particularly because it is still not clear the degree to which the vaccines can protect not only against disease but also against infection and transmission. So wearing masks and social distancing should still be followed.
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