In order to ramp up the coronavirus vaccination drive in the country, the government has announced a "liberalised and accelerated" Phase 3 strategy of Covid-19 vaccination from May 1.
To help you with all the frequently asked questions around the vaccination drive, Outlook got in touch with Dr Trupti Gilada, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Masina Hospital. She was recently seen crying her heart out in a viral video. In a desperately appealing voice, the overworked health worker was seen telling viewers in the five-minute video, “We are helpless, never seen such a situation before, people are panicking…."
As she proceeds with her video, Dr Trupti Gilada lists down three points appealing to people to follow them as strictly as they can. “First, please stay safe. If you have not yet gotten Covid or you were infected but have recovered, don’t think you are a superhero or that you have some immunity. You are wrong. We are seeing so many young people get infected and we can’t help them," she says. She adds, “Covid is everywhere! If you leave home, for whatever reason, you HAVE TO WEAR YOUR MASK. It doesn’t matter why you are going out… but you have to wear face masks, and make sure your nose is fully covered." Making her third appeal, she said, “If you get unwell, if you feel unwell, don’t panic and try to get admitted. There is no space at any hospital and the few beds we have we need for critically ill patients. First isolate yourself, get in touch with your doctor, and let us decide."
Here are all your questions answered
1. What is the purpose of the fourth phase of vaccination?
This phase of vaccination has now allowed every individual above the age of 18 years to get themselves a shot. The purpose is to save as many lives as we can. The main conduit for Covid-19 from society to the home is the younger population which has to step out for work and otherwise. Also, it is the younger population that has been least compliant with Covid-appropriate behaviour. With the fourth phase, the aim is to now accelerate the percentage of immune individuals in the community. Although this is long-drawn process, the ultimate aim is to get to 70-80 per cent of the population to achieve herd immunity.
2. How much would it help in combating the Covid-19 spread?
Vaccines work two-fold. The most important effect is that they have almost 100 per cent efficacy in preventing serious infections which require hospitalization, and deaths, thus decreasing Covid mortality. Secondly, they substantially reduce the chance of getting infected with Covid as well, thus reducing infection transmission as also decreasing the chances of variant strains emerging.
3. What if you don’t get vaccinated?
People who do not get vaccinated despite being offered vaccination are missing out on an opportunity to save their own lives and the lives of their near and dear ones. Also, with talks of a vaccine passport, it may happen that those who have taken the vaccine may be allowed to undertake certain activities like travel and get on faster with more 'routine lives; although this future seems quite remote as of now.
4. Out of the available vaccine – Covaxin and Covishield, which one is more effective and how?
The efficacy of preventing a Covid infection might be slightly different for the two vaccines: 80 per cent for Covaxin and 60-90 per cent for Covishield. But the prime benefit of the vaccination is prevention from severe illness, hospitalisation, and death and in that regard, both vaccines offer near 100 per cent protection from this.
5. And what about its impact on youth?
A successful vaccination drive is of utmost importance to allow the return of life and economy to normal. And for this, the vaccination of youth is of utmost importance. Education too has taken a big hit in these times and the return of kids to school is crucial going forward. We cannot live in a lockdown of some sort forever and vaccination is the key to moving on.
6. There have been reports that vaccinated people are getting positive. Tell us something about that.
When we say that the efficacy of the vaccine is said 80 per cent it means that someone who took the vaccine has an 80% less chance of getting Covid than someone who didn't. So there is still a chance, albeit much smaller, of catching Covid infection. However, from the data we have, the vaccinated person has an almost zero percent chance of getting hospitalized or dying because of Covid. Covid-appropriate behaviour should continue and this will protect them further from the infection.
7. Is there a relation between Covid vaccines and heart attacks?
There is absolutely no relation between Covid vaccines and heart attacks. There had been incidents of people having heart attacks in the period following the Covid vaccine but when it was investigated it was found that in a large population that gets vaccinated there will even naturally be certain people who will have incidents like heart attacks; this number was not much more than what was seen in the period before the vaccine.
8. Mental illness rate among youth is high. Can stress impact a person's health?
Stress has a major impact on the mental health of any individual and stress which is beyond what a person can handle definitely leads to a disturbed mental state. Currently, people have lost loved ones and also jobs and livelihood; there has naturally been an increase in the cases of mental illness in the youth. Mental health has unfortunately been largely ignored as of now, but it is time that the mental health issues in the population are addressed in a timely manner so as to prevent that downstream effects like disturbed family and work life and increased suicide rates.
9. What are the precautions to be taken before and after vaccination?
People who have had symptoms of Covid or have had Covid should wait for a period of four weeks after resolution of symptoms before they take the vaccine. The precautions post-vaccination remain the same as those earlier; names masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene. The other thing to remember is that for 2-3 days post-vaccination there might be complaints like injection site pain, body ache, and fever and these things can be managed with Paracetamol. Fevers persisting beyond three or four days should be reported to the physician and further evaluated. Anecdotally, the side effects of the second dose of Covishield have been seen to be lesser than the first dose.
10. Are there any home remedies to avoid getting infected?
There are absolutely no magic home-ready remedies to avoid getting infected. The only preventive strategies for Covid-19 infection remain very good masking, physical distancing, hand sanitization e-tickets, and now vaccination. Having a balanced and nutritious diet good, hydration and regular exercises is good to keep oneself fit and healthy. It is important to control comorbidities like diabetes and blood pressure to prevent a complicated course in case you do get infected by Covid.
11. Are there any home remedies to treat Covid-19?
The treatment of Covid-19 especially in mild cases requires mainly treating symptoms like giving medicines for fever and making the patient comfortable if they have a cold or cough. In that regards home remedies like steam inhalation or gargling with warm saline come in handy to relieve the symptoms of Covid-19. What is important to understand is there is a home ready remedies or herbal treatments that do not actually treat the Covid-19 disease; all that they do is relieve the symptoms and make the patient more comfortable while allowing the immune system of the body to fight the virus and the patient recovers from the illness.
12. Can you drink after vaccination?
It is always advised to abstain from alcohol after vaccination because alcohol has detrimental effects on the immune system in the body and we want the immune system in the body to optimally function post-vaccination so as to help make the antibodies that are required to fight the disease.
13. Can you have sex after vaccination?
Yes, absolutely. Vaccines have no detrimental effect on the sexual life of an individual and neither does having sex have a detrimental effect on the vaccines
14. Can you donate blood?
People can definitely donate blood after vaccination as long as they are feeling fit and are showing no symptoms of illness. There is no waiting period between vaccination and eligibility to donate blood.
15. People are not getting dates for the immediate Covid tests. In case someone has symptoms, what should one do till the test?
Whenever you experience something unusual whether it's a headache, loose motion, body ache, or sore throat, you must consider this as Covid-19 and isolate yourself immediately. Most patients with Covid-19 will be treated at home and the things that they need to do is strict isolation, very good nutrition, good hydration, taking Paracetamol, or any other symptomatic treatment for the cold or loose motions and cough. The most important thing is monitoring the oxygen saturation at rest and after a six-minute walk, a drop in oxygen saturation to 94 or below that may be the first sign of Covid-19 pneumonia that may require hospital-based treatment. At this time, the patient should definitely consult their physician but most importantly do not panic and take the treatment suggested by the physician.