Covid-19 Vaccines: To Take the Shot or Not

Dr. Golam Nabi

19 December, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Covid-19 is a nightmare nowadays, millions of people have been affected globally with substantial casualties. As there is no specific treatment so far to overcome this deadly disease, sufferers only manage the associated symptoms. So how can we get rid of this disease? There are two ways for it - one is Herd Immunity which is hard to achieve at the cost of many lives and another is having the Vaccine.

A vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease, the Covid-19, is perhaps the best hope for ending the pandemic. Since the emergence of this virus, the world is eagerly looking forward to overcoming this and now it is knocking at the door to save you. So many companies are already working on their product, among them Pfizer has played a key role and people started to take the vaccine. Moderna is the next giant whose vaccine is about to get approved shortly. Both the vaccines claimed 95 per cent effectiveness.

How safe is the vaccine?

We have heard about the Covid-19 vaccine since the emergence of the disease. The quick development and approval of a vaccine may increase our hesitancy about its safety or effectiveness. We might think that Covid-19 vaccine is not safe because it was rapidly developed and tested. But the emergency situation warranted an emergency response but that does not mean that companies bypassed safety protocols or performed inadequate testing.

This vaccine was created using a novel technology based on the molecular structure of the virus. The novel methodology to develop a Covid-19 vaccine allows it to be free from materials of animal origin and synthesised by an efficient, cell-free process without preservatives. This vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTecH has been studied in approximately 43,000 people and it is proven safe and effective in that population. In addition to the safety review by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunisation has made a panel of vaccine safety experts to independently evaluate the safety data from the clinical trial and they have given the green signal.

What will you do if you are already Covid-19 positive?

If you already had Covid-19 and recovered, what would you do? There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting Covid-19 again. This is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from Covid-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. The CDC recommends getting the Covid-19 vaccine, even if you’ve had Covid-19 previously. However, those that had Covid-19 should delay vaccination until about 90 days from diagnosis. People should not get vaccinated if in quarantine after exposure or if they have Covid-19 symptoms.

Side effects of Covid-19 vaccines

There are short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that resolve without complication or injury. The early phase studies of the Pfizer vaccine show that it is safe. About 15 per cent of people developed short lived symptoms at the site of the injection. 50 per cent developed systemic reactions primarily like headache, chills, fatigue or muscle pain or fever lasting for a day or two. Keep in mind that these side effects are indicators that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and are common when receiving vaccines.

Wearing a mask and keeping physical distancing after getting the vaccine

The answer is YES, while the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown at this time if you can still carry and transmit the virus to others. Until more is understood about how well the vaccine works, continuing with precautions such as mask-wearing and physical distancing will be important. While some people that receive the vaccine may develop symptoms as their immune system responds, remember that this is common when receiving any vaccine and not considered serious or life-threatening. You cannot get Covid-19 infection from the Covid-19 vaccines; they are inactivated not live viruses.

It's important to recognise that getting the vaccine is not just about survival from Covid-19. It's about preventing spread of the virus to others and preventing infection that can lead to long-term negative health effects. While no vaccine is 100 per cent effective, they are far better than not getting a vaccine. The benefits certainly outweigh the risks in healthy people.

So don’t wait if the vaccine is available and get the shot at the earliest. This is the only way the world can survive from Covid – 19.


The writer is an Associate Professor of Medicine, ZH Sikder Womens Medical College & Hospital.