With the availability of the COVID 19 vaccines, there is a general sense of relief. Though still a very long way to go, people have begun to see a faint light at the end of the dark tunnel. The vaccines promise to offer protection from the deadly virus which has claimed thousands and thousands of lives all across the world, with India being one of the worst-hit countries. India has two very effective COVID vaccines currently – Covishield and Covaxin. While Covishield is the globally used AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Covaxin is an Indian product that is created in India by an Indian company. Both the vaccines are considered to be very safe and have the WHO approval.
Safety worries related to the COVID vaccines
A vast majority of the people have come forward to get themselves vaccinated. However, a silent fear lurks in the mind of many people regarding the safety of the COVID vaccines. Thankfully though, these worries are baseless as the WHO has ensured that every vaccine being used is safe and tested extensively to ensure maximum protection. According to the WHO, every vaccine has been tested several times, on a large group of people of different age groups, ethnicities, genders and with health conditions. Covishield and Covaxin both have WHO’s approval, so it can be said that they are very safe to use.
Who should not take the COVID vaccines?
While the WHO clearly states that the vaccines are safe for practically everyone, it does mention that certain people must take certain precautions before taking the jab. These include pregnant women, nursing mothers, people with severe allergies and HIV positive people.
Social interactions after getting vaccinated
But how safe and effective is the vaccine from preventing the spread of the coronavirus? As per the experts, the vaccine cannot exactly stop the virus from entering the body. The role of the vaccine is to strengthen the immunity system to an extent where the vaccinated person will not get affected by the virus. In other words, the severity of COVID, if injected, will be very low or marginal and the patient will not require hospitalisation or any other form of emergency care.
This is why you should limit social gatherings even after receiving your vaccine if you are unsure of the vaccination status of all the other people around you.
Can I spread the vaccine to fully vaccinated people?
But what happens if you are fully vaccinated and you interact with a small batch of people who too are fully vaccinated? In that case, the safety is much higher. It may be possible for you to interact with those people without wearing your mask. However, to do so, you must be one hundred per cent sure about what is meant by “fully vaccinated”. A person is deemed fully vaccinated two weeks after he receives his second vaccine dose. Remember, you won’t be considered to be fully vaccinated the moment you take your second shot!
A very important point to remember here is that you can silently get affected by COVID 19 after you get vaccinated. As stated, the virus is still capable of entering your body and infecting you. You may be completely non-symptomatic and unaware of the presence of the illness. However, the virus will keep spreading as you will be an active patient, shedding the virus. The virus, even if it spreads and circulates in vaccinated people, will retain the capacity to mutate. This is tremendously dangerous, as vaccines may not be powerful against the mutant COVID viruses. So in order to ensure you don’t play a role in this, you need to wear your mask, sanitize your hands and maintain social distancing till the time the WHO confirms the end of the pandemic.
Efficacy of the COVID vaccines in India
Another safety concern that many people have is regarding the efficacy levels of the COVID vaccines available in India. Covishield, which is the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, has an efficacy of 82% after the administration of both doses. It has an efficacy of 76% after the administration of a single dose. Covaxin, on the other hand, has an efficacy of 78% after the administration of both doses.
The bottom line
After keeping all the points mentioned above in mind, it can be said that the COVID vaccines are very safe. You should therefore not hold yourself back from getting vaccinated. However, even after getting vaccinated, you won’t be 100 per cent protected against the virus. You may still get a mild version of the infection, and more importantly, you may spread the virus to others. It is thus a good idea to practice the usual pandemic norms of masking up, sanitizing hands and surfaces and maintaining social distancing and stay as safe as possible from COVID 19.
- Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines (who.int)
- Fully vaccinated against COVID-19? So, what can you safely do? – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing
- After COVID-19 vaccination: Is it OK to visit with friends and loved ones? – Mayo Clinic
- Can a covid-vaccinated person still spread the coronavirus? (livemint.com)
- COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca confirms 100% protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death in the primary analysis of Phase III trials
- Bharat Biotech Says Covaxin Shows 78% Efficacy Against Mild To Severe COVID-19 (ndtv.com)