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COVID-19 vaccination | From price to availability, all your questions answered

As the COVID-19 vaccination drive begins in India, here are the answers to all your questions.

January 16, 2021 / 10:29 AM IST
Representative Image.

Representative Image.

The nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive is beginning today. With much said and discussed about the effectiveness of the vaccines - Serum Institute of India's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, people are curious to know everything about the vaccines and the information related with it.

Here are some FAQs answered:

When will the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive begin?

The first phase of nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive will begin on January 16, 2021.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Who would get the vaccine first?

The Central government said it would inoculate about one crore healthcare workers first. It would be followed by two crore front-line workers, police, armed forces, municipal workers, revenue staff and others in the second phase. While 27 crore people above 50 years of age and those with co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, and organ transplant patients will get the vaccine in the third phase.

Where can a person get the vaccine?

By directly approaching the designated hospitals or medical centres, one cannot get the vaccine. They will have to register themselves online only using the CoWIN app. The app will soon be released in public domain. Once the app gets released, it could be downloaded from Google Play Store and Apple App Store. 

How will CoWIN App work?

After a person registers online, he/she will receive an SMS on the due date, place and time of their vaccination. The app will also give reminders for the second dose, help one to reschedule the vaccination and report any adverse events. A unique health ID will be generated for each vaccine beneficiary in the CoWIN system, to help the government keep track. A QR code-based digital certificate will be sent via the application to those who have been administered both doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

What documents are required for CoWIN app registration?

Anyone wishing to register on CoWIN app, needs to upload any one of the twelve photo-identity documents such as voter card, Aadhaar, driving license, among others to register and for verification of the beneficiary at the session site to ensure that the intended person is vaccinated. 

Does CoWIN app keep data protected?

The CoWIN platform collects individual information and keeps a digital record on who gets vaccinated by whom, when and which vaccine. To protect privacy, the data sets did not include names of any stakeholders or any other information that would allow identification of respondents. All physical copies of filled questionnaires and field notes were kept secure and confidential. All electronic data is stored on a password-protected computer, while backup of all data and analysis reports has been stored on an external encrypted hard drive. Still concerns about privacy and data protection persist.

Can pregnant women, children below 12 years take the vaccine?

Unlikely. The government has approved SII's Covishield vaccine for restricted use in emergency situations in individuals 18 years of age and above, while Bharat Biotech's Covaxin has been approved for 12 years and above. For pregnant women, it comes with restrictions. 

Can people choose the vaccine of their choice?

Currently, NO. 

What are criteria/s for getting a vaccine?

a) Register himself/herself through CoWIN app.
b) One needs to be at the vaccination centre for at least half an hour after taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

c) Persons with one or more co-morbid conditions and considered high-risk categories, should get the vaccination.

What is the cost of vaccine/s?

Rs 200 per dose for SII's Covishield, but the price is fixed only for the first 1.1 crore doses supplied to the government. While, for Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, procured by the government would cost Rs 206 per dose.

Are the vaccines safe?

Yes, the vaccines have been proven safe.

What are the expected side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?

Mostly mild COVID-like symptoms like low fever and fatigue. Apart from this, reports of local injection site pain and induration have come to notice in some cases. 

What if, one faces a serious allergic reaction after vaccination?

The person needs to call or go to the nearest hospital. Also, report side-effects after vaccination to the vaccine maker's toll free number. (Serum Institute of India - +91-1800 1200124).

Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic
Saurav Mukherjee

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