The COVID-19 vaccination has been launched on January 16 with 10 vaccination centres for the entire state of Manipur. In the beginning only health workers and COVID-19 frontline warriors were given vaccination.
Later vaccination eligibility was extended on priority basis seniors of 60 year and above. The cut off year was then reduced 45 years and above and now it stands at 18 years and above.
However, the total number of doses of COVID-19 vaccine administration according to Health Department Statement released on July 30 is 12,90,134 of which 10,88,797 are first dose and 2,01,337 are fully vaccinated. This means only 6.49 percent of the population are fully vaccinated if the total population of Manipur is estimated to be 31 lakhs. It is also reported that people have many concerns about COVID-19 vaccination.
In view of the rising concerns about COVID-19 vaccination, Imphal Review of Arts and Politics (IRAP) interacted with Dr. Brogen Akoijam; Head of Community Medicine Department (CMD) of Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Imphal. In this interaction, some common questions frequently asked by the public related to vaccination are addressed.
IRAP: Is COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Dr. Brogen: Yes. Before coming into use, COVID-19 vaccines undergo stringent testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet the required safety and efficacy standards. The vaccines are continuously monitored to identify and respond to any safety concerns that might develop and assure that it remains safe for use. Mild side effects like pain at injection site, fatigue, fever, headache, muscle pain, chills are common after vaccination. Serious side effects like anaphylaxis are very rare and can be treated with timely intervention. Usually, anaphylaxis reaction occurs within 15 minutes of vaccination. That’s why one should stay at the vaccination site for 30 minutes after vaccination.
IRAP: Can I still get COVID-19 after getting vaccinated?
Dr. Brogen: Yes, you can still get COVID-19 after vaccination. No vaccine in the world is 100% protective. However, if you are vaccinated and do get the disease, the chances of severe disease, hospitalization and death are very less as compared to non-vaccinated individuals. So far in Manipur no person who is fully vaccinated (2 doses and 14 days after 2nd dose) has died of Covid-19.
IRAP: Can the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?
Dr. Brogen: No, the COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19. The vaccine does not contain any live virus that causes COVID-19.
IRAP: Can I get the vaccine if I am suffering from COVID-19 (confirmed or suspected)?
Dr. Brogen: Better not. You should not get the vaccine if you currently have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection as you won’t get the benefit of vaccination. If unknowingly vaccinated also, it is not harmful except that you may have the usual side effects mentioned above. However, COVID-19 testing is not required for all before vaccination.
IRAP: Can I get the vaccine if I have recovered from COVID-19 infection?
Dr. Brogen: Yes, one can get vaccinated three months after recovery. There is evidence that it will help in building a better immune response against the disease.
IRAP: Will all the vaccinated persons die within two years?
Dr. Brogen: No, it is a rumour. More than 100 crore people all over the world and approximately 9 crore people in India have been fully vaccinated and there is no way that these people will die in two years. For that matter, around 3 persons are dying every minute due to road traffic accidents and every 40 seconds 1 person dies of suicide. Death from Covid is much more among the unvaccinated than the vaccinated person. If you wait for two years to get the vaccine, your chance of getting Covid-19 and dying is very high compared to a vaccinated person.
IRAP: Will the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility or affect pregnancy?
Dr. Brogen: No, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility or affects pregnancy. Since it is considered safe in pregnancy, vaccination has been recommended for pregnant women as well.
IRAP: Should I use mask and follow other COVID-19 appropriate behaviours after receiving the vaccine?
Dr. Brogen: Yes, you should continue to follow the COVID-19 appropriate behaviours even after getting vaccinated. Even if vaccinated, one may get infected with Covid-19 (mostly mild disease). Also, you may spread Covid-19 to others.
IRAP: Is COVID-19 vaccine given against one’s wish? (“small and great, rich or poor, both free and slave on the right hand or forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is the name of the beast or the number of its name”)
Dr. Brogen: Vaccination for COVID-19 is purely voluntary. No one will be forced to have the vaccine. However, it is very important that the person takes the decision after knowing the facts about vaccination, not based on misinformation or disinformation. However, some departments may notify that vaccination of the staff/employees is desirable to minimize transmission of Covid-19 virus and control the pandemic. Claims such as “the vaccine is the mark of the beast or 666” or that “it contains microchip” and that the government is trying to control us by forcefully vaccinating everyone are simply unfounded.
IRAP: Is Covid-19 vaccine halal? Does it contain any meat or its extract?
Dr. Brogen: Yes, Covid-19 vaccine is halal in that it does not contain any meat or its extract.
IRAP: The vaccine is recommended to pregnant women to protect the baby inside, but why it is not given to other children already born?
Dr. Brogen: At the beginning, the vaccine hasn’t been tested in children but now test (study) is going on among children and may be available by October this year. The effects of Covid-19 are much more severe among the unborn babies (including death inside the womb) than the children. It also affects the health of the pregnant mother. That is why priority is given to pregnant women.
Senior Editor: Imphal Review of Arts and Politics