India is embarking on one of the world's most ambitious mass immunization programs ever undertaken, after regulators approved the country's first two Covid-19 vaccines for restricted emergency use.
Indian drug regulators on Sunday gave the go ahead for two coronavirus vaccines, one developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and the other conceived locally by Bharat Biotech and a government-run institute.
Both vaccines will be administered in two doses and stored at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit).
With India set to roll out vaccine, the Union Health Ministry has released a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on Covid-19 vaccines.
Is a Covid vaccine scheduled anytime soon?
Government has identified high-risk groups to be vaccinated on priority.
>> The first group includes healthcare and frontline workers,
>> The second group will be persons over 50 years and persons with co-morbid conditions
>> Subsequently, the vaccine will be made available to all others in need.
Will the vaccine be safe as it is being tested and introduced in a short span of time?
Vaccines will be introduced in the country only after the regulatory bodies clear it based on its safety and efficacy.
Self-registration module will be made available in the later phases of the implementation.
Here's how it will be done:
Vaccine sites have been allocated for different priority groups:
Fixed session site
Vaccination conducted at the health facilities - both government and private - where either a medical officer or a doctor is available is defined as a fixed session site.
Outreach session site
Sites other than health facilities such as schools, community halls etc.
Special mobile teams
This is for remote, hard-to-reach areas, migratory populations areas and international borders areas. District administrations need to plan these teams as part of the operational plan.
There will be three demarcated rooms and areas for the vaccination process: Waiting room - where one will wait before the vaccine is administered; vaccination room - where the vaccine will be administered and observation room where the beneficiary will be observed for 30 minutes post receiving the vaccine.
A five-member vaccination team will be entrusted with the process:
Is it mandatory to take the vaccine?
Vaccination for Covid-19 is voluntary. However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of Covid-19 vaccine for protecting self against this disease and also to limit the spread of this disease to the close contacts including family members, friends, relatives and co-workers.
Is it necessary for a Covid recovered person to take the vaccine?
Yes, it is advisable to receive complete schedule of Covid vaccine irrespective of past history of infection with Covid-19 as it will help in developing a strong immune response.
Can a person presently having Covid-19 (confirmed or suspected) infection be vaccinated?
Infected individuals should defer vaccination for 14 days after symptoms resolution as they may increase the risk of spreading the virus to others at the vaccination site.
Out of the multiple vaccines available, how is one or more vaccine chosen for administration?
The safety and efficacy data from clinical trials of vaccine candidates are examined by Drug regulator before granting the licence. Hence, all the licenced Covid-19 vaccines will have comparable safety and efficacy.
However, it must be ensured that the entire schedule of vaccination is completed by only one type of vaccine as different Covid-19 vaccines are not interchangeable.
Does India have the capacity to store the Covid vaccine at temperature of +2 to +8 degree Celsius and transport them at required temperature?
India runs one of the largest Immunisation programme in the world, catering to the vaccination needs of more than 26 million newborns and 29 million pregnant women. The programme mechanisms are being strengthened/geared up to effectively cater to the country’s large and diverse population.
Will the vaccine introduced in India be as effective as the ones introduced in other countries?
Yes. The Covid-19 vaccine introduced in India will be as effective as any vaccine developed by other countries as various phases of vaccine trials are undertaken to ensure its safety and efficacy.
How will I know if I am eligible for vaccination?
Eligible beneficiaries will be informed through their registered mobile number regarding the health facility for vaccination and its scheduled time.
What documents are required for registration of eligible beneficiary?
Any of the below mentioned ID with Photo may be produced at the time of registration:
Can a person get the Covid-19 vaccine without registration with Health Department?
No, registration of beneficiary is mandatory for vaccination for Covid-19. Only after registration, the information on the session site and time will be shared.
If a person is not able to produce Photo ID at the session site, whether s/he be vaccinated or not?
Photo ID is a must for both registration and verification of beneficiary at session site to ensure that the intended person is vaccinated.
How will the beneficiary receive information about due date of vaccination?
Following online registration, beneficiary will receive SMS on their registered mobile number on the due date, place and time of vaccination.
Will vaccinated beneficiaries receive information on the status of their vaccination after completion?
Yes. On getting due dose of Covid-19 vaccine, the beneficiary will receive SMS on their registered mobile number. After all doses of vaccine are administered, a QR code-based certificate will also be sent to the registered mobile number of the beneficiary.
What about the possible side-effects from Covid-19 vaccine?
Covid vaccine will be introduced only when the safety is proven.
As is true for other vaccines, the common side effects in some individuals could be mild fever, pain, etc. at the site of injection.
States have been asked to start making arrangements to deal with any Covid-19 vaccine-related side-effects.
If one is taking medicines for illnesses like Cancer, Diabetes, Hypertension etc, can s/he take the COVID19 vaccine?
Yes. Persons with one or more of these comorbid conditions are considered high risk category. They need to get COVID -19 vaccination.
Will the family of healthcare providers/frontline workers also be given the vaccine?
Due to the limited vaccine supply in the initial phase, it will be first provided to people in priority groups.
In subsequent phases, the vaccine will be made available to all others in need.
How many doses of the vaccine would have to be taken by me and at what interval?
Two doses of vaccine, 28 days apart, need to be taken by an individual to complete the vaccination schedule.
When would antibodies develop? After taking first dose, after taking second dose, or much later?
Protective levels of antibodies are generally developed two weeks after receiving the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine.