Amidst the second wave of COVID-19 infection, India continues to hold the top spot on the world coronavirus map with millions of confirmed coronavirus positive cases. With the worldwide news on the progress of vaccination drive and production of COVID vaccines—some reported over 90% efficacy rate—it is only understandable that people are hopeful that vaccination drive will help improve the current situation in India.
What is the current picture of the vaccination program in India? Which vaccines are available? Who is eligible for them? Where are they being administered? Everything you need to know is right here.
Which vaccines have been approved?
India approved the Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield vaccine in the first week of January 2021. The two-dose vaccine has been developed by SII in collaboration with Oxford University in the UK and AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company.
The Covishield is based on the viral vector platform. In simple terms, it is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus, called adenovirus, from chimpanzees and has been modified to look more like coronavirus.
The Indian government has recommended an interval of 8 weeks between the first and second doses of the vaccine.
The peer-reviewed results of the Phase-III trials of the Covishield show that it is up to 90% effective. The results also revealed that the vaccine was only 62% effective when participants were given two full doses, but its efficacy rose to 90% when a half dose followed by a full dose was administered. It is effective against the UK strain and is being tested against the Brazilian variant too.
Covishield does have a few side effects, such as pain, redness, itching, swelling or bruising, feeling unwell, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, nausea, joint pain, and muscle ache, but they are mostly mild to moderate in nature and can be treated with over-the-counter pills.
It is also known to have triggered allergic reactions.
Along with Covishield, the DCGI gave the green signal to Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin in early January.
Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine. It contains the dead virus, which prompts an immune response but doesn’t infect or make the person sick.
It consists of two doses, given 28 days apart.
Bharat Biotech and Ocugen jointly announced that Covaxin demonstrated efficacy of 80.6% in the Phase 3 trials. The vaccine can induce antibodies that can neutralize even the UK and Brazilian strains.
Covaxin induces side effects including site pain, injection site swelling, injection site redness, injection site itching, stiffness in the upper arm, weakness in the injection arm, body ache, headache, fever, malaise, weakness, rashes, nausea, vomiting.
Vaccine registration in India
Appointments for vaccination can be booked through the CoWIN website or the Aarogya Setu app.
Keep in mind that every user of either platform can register at the most 4 beneficiaries.
- Open the CoWIN online portal.
- Click on the ‘Register/Sign In Yourself’ yellow button. Those who are using it for the first time will need to register themselves with their photo ID proof (Aadhar Card/ Driving License/ PAN Card/ Passport/ Pension Passbook), photo ID number, name, and birth year. Those who have registered can sign in with an OTP.
- Click on ‘Schedule Appointment’.
- Choose the state, district, block, and pin code from a dropdown and select your vaccination centre and time slot.
- ‘Confirm’ your appointment.
- Download the app on Google Play or iOS App Store.
- On the app’s homepage, click on the ‘CoWIN’ tab on the top right.
- Select the ‘Register Now’ option and verify your mobile number with an OTP.
- Fill in details such as name, age, gender, year of birth, etc, and upload a photo ID proof.
- Search for your convenient vaccination centre by entering the pincode, and choose the date and time of your appointment.
Upon successful registration, you will receive an SMS with the appointment details.
Once you complete your dose regimen, you’ll receive your vaccination certificate on the above two portals.
How long will the vaccination protect me?
The longevity of the immune response in vaccinated individuals is yet to be determined. Hence, continuing the use of masks, handwashing, physical distancing and other COVID-19 appropriate behaviors is strongly recommended.