Dr Kanchan Sanyal, health and wellness advisor at Columbia Pacific Communities, a healthcare group, shares some crucial tips to stay safe:
Everyone above 18 years can now be vaccinated.
If you are feeling a little nervous about the experience, tell yourself you have nothing to worry.
Here are a few tips to help you stay informed and safe before and after taking the jab:
1. Schedule your appointment and stick to it
Your state may have certain requirements for registering and scheduling your dose.
Find out what is applicable to your state and fix the appointment.
Missing your appointment could result in a wasted dose of the vaccine.
Once the vaccine vial is opened, it must be used on the same day or it is wasted. So be a responsible citizen.
2. Accept whichever vaccine is available
Avoid ‘vaccine shopping’ and take whichever vaccine you are offered.
You may have a preconceived notion that one vaccine is superior to the others, but in truth, all vaccines being used are helping us put an end to this pandemic.
3. Health conditions and medication
The advisory given by the health ministry clearly indicates the eligibility or contraindications/ health conditions for the use of the vaccine.
You can refer to the Government of India Web site (external link) for details.
Your doctors are overworked and busy dealing with the pandemic. This simple step of checking the Web site may help you answer most of your queries.
4. Wear a mask or a face covering
Your vaccine provider will require you to wear a mask.
Masks are still proven to slow the spread of COVID-19 viral particles, and you’ll be sitting relatively close to people at the vaccine centres.
Wear a clean N95 mask and if possible, wear two masks for extra protection.
5. Wait in the clinic for 30 minutes
Most vaccine providers will require you to wait in the facility for 30 minutes after getting vaccinated to watch for any immediate and severe side effects.
Even if you feel fine, please wait!
6. Wear a short-sleeved shirt/ loose blouse to make it easier
The shot goes in your shoulder, so wear a loose, short-sleeved garment to make it easy for the nurses or doctors to vaccinate you.
7. Reschedule if you have known exposure or symptoms
If you are due to get the vaccine but start showing symptoms or are notified that you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, follow the current state guidelines for quarantine and self-isolation and reschedule your appointment.
8. Do not post a selfie with your vaccine card
Be proud of your COVID-19 vaccination, but showing off your vaccine card could invite scammers with your personal information.
9. Save your vaccine card – digitally or in a hard copy
When you need the second shot, you may need to show your provider the timestamp on your vaccine card.
Additionally, public places and transportation (including airlines) may start requiring COVID-19 vaccination documentation at some time.
10. Do not get other vaccines at the same time
If you are due for any other routine vaccination, wait for 14 days between that vaccine and your COVID-19 vaccine.
These recommendations are in place because we do not know yet how the COVID-19 vaccine might interact with other vaccinations.
11. Follow precautions at the site of the jab
After the injection, keep the area clean and apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area.
Move and exercise the arm
For those on blood thinners, a gentle pressure will help to minimize bruising.
If there is a persistent pain, you may take a paracetamol or ibuprofen unless contradicted by your physician.
The pain and swelling will go away in a few days but if in doubt discuss with your physician.
Generalised mild reactions may feel like flu and may even affect your ability to do daily activities but will disappear in a few days.
These side effects are a result of the inflammation that is happening within your body.
Your body reacts to the vaccine and is working to fight off the simulated infection.
These symptoms show that your body is building a healthy immune response.
Do not medicate for the side effects of the vaccine before taking the vaccine and take medicines only if you have symptoms (you may keep aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen or antihistamines at home if you want).
12. Drink plenty of fluids
Immunity-boosting foods are recommended to assist a speedy recovery.
It is advised to have foods with high water content, and with anti-inflammatory properties.
13. Avoid alcohol
There is no evidence that alcohol reduces the formation of antibodies but refrain from alcohol for at least 48 hours before and after the vaccine.
This is a universal caution for any and all vaccines. However, watching your alcohol intake in the days after getting vaccinated is for a different reason.
14. Vaccine may increase your underlying morbidity
Some people may experience flu-like side effects after the vaccine and alcohol may make these symptoms unpleasant.
It is also possible for someone to confuse hangover symptoms with vaccine side effects!
Precautions while you wait for your second shot
It takes time for your body to build protection after any vaccination.
COVID-19 vaccines that require 2 shots may not protect you until a week or two after your second shot.
15. Ensure that your existing medical condition is well controlled
Use all the tools of distancing, hygiene, masking until real life data is analysed
16. The second dose should be same as first
If you are taking the second dose Make sure you have registered the change of address and the type of vaccine given as first dose.
Ensure the centre is giving you the same vaccine you have received as first dose.
Precautions after your second dose of vaccine
If you have been vaccinated you may mingle with other vaccinated friends. Form your own vaccine bubble.
Try and avoid crowds. Avoid meeting people who are not vaccinated.
Continue to wear masks.
Precautions to exposure after vaccination.
If you meet a family member with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, you need not quarantine if you:
- are fully vaccinated (i.e. ≥ 2 weeks after the second dose in a 2-dose series).
- are within 3 months after the last dose in the series.
- have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.
Please remember that some of these criteria may change from state to state and through time.
Follow precautions of distancing, hand hygiene, wearing a mask and avoiding large crowds
It does sound like nothing has changed, but the new data on this new virus and new vaccines is emerging every day telling us that vaccination is the only way forward to fight COVID-19 and take control of our lives and our world.
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