India’s cumulative vaccination coverage has exceeded 17.70 crores, as of May 13, 2021, of which 13.75 crores have been administered with the first dose of either COVAXIN or COVISHIELD vaccine and 3.94 crores got their second dose of either of these vaccines.
In the last 24 hours, 18 lakh doses of vaccine have been administered across the country.
However, India, in addition to a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, is struggling to meet the surging demand for COVID-19 vaccines in several states. Despite being the home of the world’s biggest producer of COVID-19 vaccines, India’s vaccination program to inoculate every one of age 18 or above from May 1 hit a setback due to a shortage of doses.
While many are waiting to be inoculated, let us help you understand when you can take your first and second dose of vaccine, how long to wait to get your second dose if you get infected after getting the first dose, is it safe to get two different vaccines for each shot, and many more. Read on.
COVID-19 Vaccination in India: Key Points
•The Drug Controller General of India had earlier advised that the second dose of COVAXIN be administered 28 days after the first dose, and 4-6 weeks after the first dose in case of COVISHIELD.
•The waiting period was later changed to 4-6 weeks for COVAXIN and 4-8 weeks for COVISHIELD.
•A government panel on May 13, 2021, advised increasing the waiting period between two doses of COVISHIELD to 12-16 weeks. The dosage interval for COVAXIN to continue the same.
When should you get your vaccine shot, if you have not been vaccinated ever but got infected and recovered from COVID-19?
•The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises a waiting period of 90 days from the day one tested positive for COVID-19 infection, in case of who has never been received his vaccine against coronavirus.
•The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) recommends waiting up to six months after recovering from COVID-19 infection before taking the vaccine.
•The WHO has also said that a waiting period of six months is okay after getting infected and recovering, as the natural antibodies are likely to keep working until then.
•Experts say that waiting up to 6-8 weeks to six months after recovery from COVID infection is fine as the infection-triggered immunity is most likely to be at work for a few months.
When should you get your second dose of vaccine, if you got infected after getting your first dose?
•There are still ongoing studies regarding natural and vaccine-induced immunity. As per CDC, the body takes two weeks to build up immunity after getting the first vaccine shot, during which there are chances of getting infected.
•The effect of the vaccine is not strong enough if the exposure happens within one to three weeks of getting the first dose. The infection would run its course however, one may experience a milder level of infection after having been administered with the first dose of vaccine.
•In such cases, the natural antibodies in our bodies start fighting the infection and it is deemed like getting a vaccine shot. Experts, however, advise to wait up to eight weeks before getting the second dose of the COVID vaccine if you get infected in between two doses.
What to do if you got your first dose of vaccine but unable to get the second dose due to unavailability?
•Experts advise not to panic in case of a delay in getting the second dose of the vaccine.
•A study by the Lancet showed that a gap of three months between doses leads to higher vaccine efficacy. As per the study, COVISHIELD is only 55.1 per cent efficient if the two doses are administered less than six weeks but the efficacy increases to 81.3 per cent if administered at 12 weeks gap.
•Medical experts say that the gap between the first and second dose can be extended up to 45 days for COVAXIN, and three months for COVISHIELD.
What would happen if you extended the gap any longer between doses and why is it necessary to get the second dose?
•Medical experts indicate that the first dose of inactivated vaccines such as COVAXIN offers minor protection. Extending the gap between doses any longer than advised can increase the chances of getting infected and worse, one might forget to get their second dose.
•Medical experts strongly advise getting the second dose to have an 80 per cent level of protection against the COVID-19 infection.
What is the vaccination protocol for pregnant and lactating women, when can they get vaccinated?
•As per the Central Government panel, lactating women can be administered the vaccine any time after their delivery while pregnant women may be given a choice to get any COVID-19 vaccine.
Can you take COVISHIELD instead if in case you got COVAXIN as the first dose and now it is unavailable?
•As per the CDC, it is not advisable to interchange the COVID-19 vaccines.
•For instance, the US used mRNA vaccines – Moderna and the Pfizer BioNTech vaccines. In case of unavailability of the same mRNA vaccine product, “it is preferable to delay the second dose (up to six weeks) to receive the same product” than to mix the vaccine products, explained CDC.