Did you book a vaccine slot yet? This is the question that you are more likely to get if you call a friend or family member these days. If you may, the vaccine inquiry is the new “how are you” and rightly so. Blame the entire chaos resulting from the vaccine shortage in the country compounded with all the misinformation. Add to it the fact that the regulatory bodies and authorities keep changing the guidelines for vaccine administration. Naturally, there’s going to be anxiety pertaining to vaccines.
Just recently, the government released fresh guidelines regarding the administration of the COVID-19 vaccines. Quite overwhelmed with the amount of information and misinformation around us, we recently reached out to Dr. Harish Chafle, Consultant, Pulmonology and Critical Care, Global Hospitals, Mumbai. From the right gap between COVID-19 infection and the jab to the topic of mixing vaccines, he explained it all. Excerpts below:
Lost amid the constantly changing guidelines and misinformation pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccines? Read on to get answers to all your questions:
Normally after getting infected the body starts preparing antibodies and acc to the doctor, natural antibodies give better protection than vaccine-induced antibodies. These natural antibodies are supposed to give you protection for a period of 90 days. Hence, Dr. Chafle suggests, “Someone who has just recovered from COVID-19 should wait for 90 days before getting vaccinated. However, there is a recent change in recommendation about this to six months now.”
If someone has already received the first dose of the vaccine and then tests positive for COVID-19, they should wait for at least 60 to 90 days to take the second jab of the vaccine. This stays true for everyone who tested positive irrespective of the intensity of the infection.
Yes, as per the new COVID-19 vaccine guidelines, people with any serious general illness that requires hospitalisation or ICU care should wait for 4-8 weeks before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. However, this should be made clear that people with serious comorbidities like cancer should get vaccinated ASAP. They should defer vaccination only if they have undergone treatment for the comorbidities in critical care recently.
“No, an antibody test is not recommended before someone goes for the jab,” says Dr. Chafle. While an antibody test might sound like a good idea to measure immune response in respect of vaccination, it’s absolutely unnecessary to get one done. Unless you have been specifically advised, getting antibody tests pre/post-vaccination is not at all required.
The doctor further explains why he has been advising against the antibody test. He says, “Yes, it is true that the second jab can be delayed if the antibody titer is more than significant. But there is no clear cut data as to how much antibodies should be present to prevent getting infected and how much time it will protect someone from COVID-19.” Thus, an unnecessary antibody test might just add to the overall confusion.
According to Dr. Chafle, taking a single dose of the vaccine is not enough to mount a significant antibody response, hence a second dose of the vaccine is required as per the studies done. The second dose of vaccine is required for adequate antibody levels to prevent COVID-19 infection.
Dr. Chafle strictly advises against mixing two vaccines. One can’t take Covishield as the second dose of vaccine if he/she has taken Covaxin as the first dose. While scientists and healthcare experts are currently exploring the possibility, mixing two vaccines can lead to more pronounced side effects.
Lastly, remember that the pandemic is far from over. Therefore, it would be best if you stay at home until it is necessary to go out. Also, do not forget your mask and the trusty sanitizer if at all you need to go out.
Stay safe fam!
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