Injecting COVID 19 vaccine on an arm

Do’s and Don’ts for your vaccination

According to a recent survey, 84% of people in India are in favor of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. However, many of them still have lingering fears and doubts about the effectiveness of the vaccine. A recent study claimed that Covishield and Covaxin, both made-in-India vaccines, have proven to be effective against the “double mutant” variant of novel coronavirus. There are nearly 25 million confirmed cases in India, and the death rate is surging; therefore, not getting a vaccine is not a viable option.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), any vaccine can cause side effects. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are:

1. Mild headache

2. Pain or swelling at the injection site

3. Mild fever

4. Irritability

Health authorities around the world recommend the use of paracetamol to treat fever and mild pain symptoms following vaccination. Here are some things to keep in mind as well as some precautions to take before and after getting vaccinated.

What should you not do?

  1. Having qualms and preferences towards a certain vaccine is not recommended. All the vaccines deployed for immunization are tested and cleared for safe usage. Try to remain calm and don’t panic or feel restless about the immunization process.
  2. The MoHFW recommends having anti-inflammatories such as paracetamol to relieve common symptoms such as site pain, tenderness, fever, and pyrexia after getting the shot. However, it is not recommended to have anti-inflammatory and antipyretics before taking the vaccine.
  3. There is no evidence of alcohol drastically affecting your immune response. However, it is advised to refrain from heavy drinking for a few days before and after getting the vaccination as high blood alcohol levels may impact the immune system.
  4. Do not schedule major surgeries right before or after you get the shot. Ideally, wait for a week before you schedule any surgery.

What should you do?

Before vaccination:

  1. People with medical conditions, medications (especially steroids or immunosuppressant drugs), or with a weak immune response should inform the vaccination center before taking the vaccination.
  2. It would be best to check with your healthcare practitioner if you could have an allergic reaction due to medications or drugs.
  3. Sleep well, stay hydrated and have zinc-rich foods such as flax, almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, eggs, legumes, dairy and whole grains a few days before getting the vaccine.
  4. Pregnant women are suggested to consult their doctor before getting the shot and monitor their symptoms after getting immunized.

After vaccination:

  1. It is advised to wait at the vaccination site for about 20-30 minutes in case you get an allergic reaction to the vaccine.
  2. Lactating women may even continue to breastfeed their baby without taking any break after vaccination.
  3. One must continue to wear a mask, use sanitizer, practice social distancing and maintain hygiene even post-vaccination. The chances of reinfection are rare, but not zero.
  4. Beware of the suspected thromboembolic, or blood clotting, symptoms occurring within 20 days of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, particularly Covishield.
  5. The government of India has advised COVID-19 recovered individuals to wait for 3 months to get the vaccine shot. An antibody test can determine if you require the vaccine or not. However, re-infection within 90 days of infection is very rare.
  6. Side effects from the SARS COVID-19 vaccines are experienced by 15% of immunized people. Unusually high fever or severe infections must be reported to your doctor. If anything doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t— seek medical help if necessary.

Have you heard of the Placebo effect?

The human mind is a compelling tool; powerful enough to improve the human body solely on its intention and expectation of feeling better. It somehow convinces the human body that the placebo medication given in the procedure is equivalent to the proper medication.

Resisting COVID-19 vaccination is futile. Instead, take the jab expecting the best results. Even though this does not always guarantee positive results, it helps ease the mental stress amidst these hard days.

This article is prepared in consultation with Dr. Amrit Jha (MBBS, MS Ortho) & Dr. Darshan Sheth (MBBS, MHA).

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