Written by: Niyati Mahale || Graphics by: Niyati Mahale || SEO by: Darshan
With the second wave emerging, India’s battle against Covid-19 depends strongly on one weapon–the Covid Vaccine. Currently, the Indian Government has approved two vaccines– ‘COVISHIELD’ and ‘COVAXIN’. Even while people have their doubts about the Covid vaccine, we find many rumors and facts making rounds all over social media. Such confusing and sometimes contradictory information is only making people skeptical about taking the jab. With the vaccination drive commencing for all those who are above 18, it is important to have a clear idea about vaccines in general and also identify any myths about the Covid vaccine.
History of vaccine:
People have practiced immunization for hundreds of years. In India and China, reports of inoculation against smallpox were seen as early as the 17th century. Edward Jenner is known as the founder of modern vaccinology for his demonstration of immunity against smallpox by introducing the cowpox virus in a 13-year-old boy. Later, Louis Pasteur’s development of the rabies vaccine helped modern vaccinology reach new heights.
How vaccines work:
When our body is infected by a virus, we fall sick. Our bodies then start a response to fight against the virus by producing special proteins called antibodies. Even after the infection is successfully killed, few of the antibodies still remain in our body and help fight the virus if it attacks again. In simple terms, our body is trained to fight against that particular virus so it does not cause infection again. This is called immunity.
Vaccines work on the same principle. When you take a vaccine, it introduces weak forms of the particular disease-causing virus in your body. Your body then reacts to the vaccine as if it were being attacked by the virus itself. Since the viruses in the vaccine are weak, your body can easily fight them off by producing antibodies. This develops immunity against the virus and when the actual virus attacks your body, it can kill the virus before it causes an infection.
Do vaccines give lifelong immunity?
How long the immunity lasts entirely depends on how stable the virus is. For instance, the measles virus is very stable as it rarely undergoes changes (mutation) to form new strains. That is why two doses of the measles vaccine are enough to provide lifetime immunity. On the other hand, the flu virus constantly undergoes mutation to produce new strains. Even if you are immune to the previous strains of the virus, newer strains are capable of causing an infection in your body. So, a yearly shot of the flu vaccine is recommended.
However, the Covid-19 virus is neither as stable as measles nor does it frequently change like the flu. According to research, immunity against Covid-19 can last from 6 to 8 months.
Busting myths related to the Covid vaccine:
Rumors on social media have left many of us confused about the safety of the vaccine. It is important to separate the myths from the facts so that we can create a safe atmosphere for everyone taking the vaccine.
Myth: Taking the vaccine will cause Covid
Fact: The Covishield vaccine is made up of common cold virus (adenovirus) which is modified to look like the coronavirus. It does not contain the coronavirus itself. Covaxin is made up of inactivated (killed) coronavirus. Both these vaccines are completely safe and may cause side effects like chills and fever, but these side effects are common and should not be confused with getting Covid itself.
Myth: You can stop wearing a mask once you are vaccinated
Fact: Even after taking both doses of the vaccine, the risk of getting Covid is not eliminated. The vaccine helps in stopping the infection from getting severe. You can still spread the virus to others. It is advised to follow all the precautions like wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, even after getting vaccinated.
Myth: Taking a single dose of vaccine is enough.
Fact: The antibodies produced in your body after a single dose are inadequate to protect you from getting infected. That is why a second dose is necessary to produce enough antibodies to provide immunity against coronavirus.
Myth: There is no need to get vaccinated if you have already got Covid before.
Fact: Even if you have got infected with the virus before, it does not ensure that you have lifelong immunity against the virus. Studies are still going on to find out how long the immunity lasts in our body. Till then, it is best to get vaccinated.
It has been more than a year since we started battling this pandemic. To defeat the coronavirus and ensure everyone’s safety, all of us need to contribute by taking suitable steps like wearing a mask, using sanitizers, and practicing social distancing. With more people getting vaccinated, we all hope to end this pandemic and lead normal lives again.