The real fight begins

Monday Musing

[ M Doley ]

Whenever a new vaccine is rolled out, new misconceptions and rumours about the vaccine do the rounds. Myths associated with vaccines sometimes cause hindrance in effective implementation of health programmes.

There was religious opposition and misconception about the polio vaccine at the time its rollout. Many believed the vaccine drops were adulterated with things which could render their children impotent!

Until 2009, polio was endemic to India; but the country became officially polio-free in 2014. This was made possible only through rigorous immunization drives and awareness campaigns.

Vaccination is an effective and safe way of preventing diseases and saving lives. The benefits of vaccine always outweigh the minor side effects it can cause. Long-lasting or severe side effects are rare as all licenced vaccines are carefully tested in multiple phases before they are finally approved for mass use.

The same applies to the novel coronavirus vaccines. One should not look online for information about vaccines from websites or sources which are not trustworthy.

The central government has approved two different vaccines – one developed by the scientists of Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and the other by Bharat Biotech and the ICMR. The two vaccines are manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the largest vaccine manufacturer of the world.

While the efficacy of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield is stated to be 62 percent in those given two full doses, and 90 percent in those given a half and then a full dose, the Phase 3 safety and efficacy data of the indigenously built Covaxin is expected to be released soon.

While there is no criteria which states or union territories will be supplied which vaccine, Arunachal received a consignment of 32,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

The vaccination drive, which was launched at the TRIHMS and eight general hospitals on Saturday, will be continued in the rest of the districts and blocks from 17 January onwards.

In the first phase, over 23,000 healthcare workers are expected to get the vaccine shots in Arunachal.

The state has an impressive statistics in containing the spread of Covid-19 with 99.26 percent recovery rate and just 0.33 percent fatality rate – which is the third lowest in the country.

But we should not and can’t be complacent with the statistics as the virus can reappear anytime, even in a mutant form, as reported in many countries.

A vaccine can only protect us from the virus which has so far killed lakhs of people around the globe.

It is understood that when we get vaccinated against a disease, our risk of infection is reduced and we are less likely to transmit the virus to others, thereby indirectly protecting those round us who can’t be vaccinated due to various health conditions. Therein lies the importance of vaccination.

We must dispel doubts and apprehensions, if any, about the vaccine and its safety, efficacy, etc, by creating awareness at all levels and encourage the community members to receive the vaccine shot when it is made available as humanity has suffered a lot from the virus.