Medically reviewed by Dr. Muhammad Ashraf Shera.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has cost lives of millions of people around the world, halting basic activities of life and encapsulating people within the boundaries of their homes with limited food supplies, medical assistance, or financial assistance, seeing people get their Covid-19 vaccines is relief on it own, even if you’re waiting for yours.
With the virus mutating frequently along with the development of vaccines in a record time, countless reports emerge every day, addressing the vaccine’s effectiveness and any reported side-effects, it is essential to keep up with the information, considering it might not be far that you would be eligible for the vaccine. With a flood of information that emerges on all digital mediums, it is important to filter out facts and understand how the vaccine works and the benefits it brings in order to be entirely confident before getting your first jab.
Countries around the world are rolling out COVID-19 vaccines and its safety is regarded as WHO’s highest priorities with them working closely with national authorities to develop and implement standards to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Millions of people have safely received COVID-19 vaccines. All of the approved COVID-19 vaccines have been carefully tested and continue to be monitored.
COVID-19 vaccines, like all vaccines, undergo a stringent, multi-stage testing phase that involves massive clinical trials comprising thousands of people from diverse categories. These trials are developed primarily to recognize safety issues before the vaccine is rolled out for the masses.
While you are unlikely to be able to select the vaccine you receive, it is important to understand how each vaccine is different, and with this in perspective, here is a mapped-out comparison of the most important vaccines including the ones available in Pakistan.
What’s in the Covid vaccines?
Currently, three types of vaccines have been developed. The first type is mRNA vaccines, which use a segment of the vaccine’s genetic code to induce an immune response. It is important to note that these vaccines do not change human cells; rather, they provide the body with stimuli for developing immunity to Covid-19 virus. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are mRNA vaccines that have been approved by the FDA and are currently being used in the United States and other countries.
The other type employs a dead virus that has been changed to mimic the Coronavirus. A viral vector is used in both the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines. It is attached to another virus known as adenovirus, which is then modified and molecules of the evolving Covid-19 virus are added to it.
The other method employs dead viral particles to expose the body’s immune system to the virus without prompting a reaction. The vaccine activates the immune system and induces the formation of antibodies to combat the Covid-19 virus. This formulation is used in the Sinopharm, Sinovac, and Bharat Biotech vaccines.
Will the vaccine give me side effects?
Vaccines do not cause illness in their recipients. Instead, they train the immune system to identify and combat the infection they were designed to defend you from. After being vaccinated, some people may experience minor symptoms which is merely the body’s reaction to the vaccine and not the disease itself. Chills, tiredness, and muscle aches are usual reactions that affect more than one in ten people and generally resolve within a few days.
Vaccine-induced allergies are uncommon. The ingredients of any licensed vaccine are mentioned, and the facilities that administer the vaccines examine an individual’s medical history before determining whether or not they are eligible for vaccination. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency warns that someone who has had a severe allergic reaction to any of the vaccine’s ingredients should avoid getting it right now. To ensure that no reaction occurs, administration units are recommended to keep people under observation for at least 30 minutes after the jab.
Why should you get yourself vaccinated?
COVID-19 can cause severe, life-threatening problems, and there’s really no way to determine how it’ll affect you. If you get infected, you risk infecting your friends, family, and others. The known and potential advantages of a COVID-19 vaccine transcend the known and potential risks of the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is an effective weapon in the fight against the pandemic. Wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance from others help minimize the risk of becoming exposed or spreading it to others, but these precautions are inadequate. Vaccines work with the immune system to train you to fight the virus if you become infected.
Why should I get vaccinated after recovering from Covid-19?
COVID-19 may provide a natural defense, referred to as immunity. In the 90 days following initial infection, current evidence indicates that reinfection with the virus that triggers COVID-19
is rare. Experts are unsure how long this defense lasts, and the possibility of serious illness and death from COVID-19 greatly outweighs the benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccine protects you by eliciting an antibody response without causing you to be sick.
Experts are trying to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity in COVID-19 disease, and intend to keep the public updated when new information becomes available.
Katella, K., 2021. Comparing the COVID-19 Vaccines: How Are They Different? Yale Medicine. Available at: https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/covid-19-vaccine-comparison
Roberts, M., 2021. How do we know Covid vaccines are safe? BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55056016
Wellcome, 2021. What different types of covid-19 vaccine are there? Available at: https://wellcome.org/news/what-different-types-covid-19-vaccine-are-there
WHO, 2021. Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines. World Health Organization. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/safety-of-covid-19-vaccines