As India gears up to vaccinate its citizens against Covid-19 in the weeks to come, many questions are doing the rounds with regards to efficacy of the vaccine. Dr Arun Wadhwa, a senior consultant paediatrician, answers some commonly answered questions with regard to Covid-19 vaccines.

When is the Corona vaccine likely to be available?

Probably the Government will get it by January and the private market by March.

Do we all need to take it?

Yes, all should take it.

Who will get it first?

It will be prioritised. First frontline workers and first responders like paramedical staff, civil servants, police, army, politicians and their relatives will get it first. People more than 50 years of age and those with co-morbidities like diabetes, HT, transplant and chemotherapy patients will get it next. Then will be healthy adults, teenagers, children and last neonates if at all.

How will it be given?

Through public and private centres, by doctors, dentists, nurses and trained paramedics.

What is the recommended dose and schedule?

Two doses given 21 days or 28 days apart depending on vaccine used. 

What if I take only one dose?

One dose will give you only partial protection of maybe 60-80% and will not last long enough. For complete protection you must take two doses at recommended intervals.

What if I forget to take the second dose? Should I take the first again?

Just take the second dose at the earliest. No need to repeat the first dose.

Are both doses same?

In most of the vaccines it will be the same dose given twice. However, SputnikV vaccine has both doses as different vector viruses, so will be marked as dose 1 and 2. Oxford-AZ vaccine may also come out with first dose as half dose.

Do you need to take it even if you had Corona? After how many days of getting cured?

Yes. But that will be last in the priority list. You can let others take who probably need more than you. You might need it earlier if you did not develop an antibody response

Can it be administered to an individual who has received plasma as treatment for Covid?

The donor plasma contains anti Covid-19 antibodies and may suppress the immune response to the vaccine. As it is, those who have recovered from Covid-19 may not need the vaccine in the early phases

Can a pregnant woman or a lactating mother take the vaccine?

No company has yet tested the vaccine in pregnancy. CDC has advised against giving the vaccine to pregnant and lactating mothers. UK authorities have advised women not to get pregnant for two months after the shot. Since the vaccines available till now are not live vaccines, it should not cause any problem if given inadvertently.

Can a diabetic patient take the vaccine?

Yes, in fact diabetes has been established as a risk factor for severe disease and all diabetic patients must get vaccinated on priority.

If offered a choice of vaccines, which one should I take?

All vaccines are offering equal efficacy although local reactions may be different. Take whatever available. Think positive that at least you are being offered a vaccine ahead of others. Indian manufactured vaccines will be more suitable for our population as they are cheaper and can be kept at 2-8 degree Celsius. The mRNA vaccines require a storing temp of -70 (Pfizer) and -20 (Moderna) which may be difficult to maintain in summer months

How many days after getting vaccine, would I develop protection?

Best protection starts 10 days after second dose. Efficacy is around 70-90% against all severity and 100% against hospitalization. Immediate aim is to prevent hospitalisation and mortality

How long will the vaccine provide immunity?

It is a new virus, new technology vaccine, so we don't know. After follow-ups of these vaccinated population and their antibodies for a couple of years, we would be wiser. The need for boosters and when will they be required, will be decided after these follow ups and mathematical modelling.

Click HERE to read Part II of the most frequently asked questions