HomeOpinionVaccination minimises the effects of Covid-19

Vaccination minimises the effects of Covid-19

Being vaccinated against Covid-19 significantly reduces the chances of your becoming infected by this deadly coronavirus. If you do become infected, it minimises the effects of the virus and keeps you from becoming seriously ill. Vaccination may also, if you do become infected, reduce the likelihood of your passing the virus onto someone else. This is particularly important when it comes to those at greatest risk of severe illness from Covid-19, namely people who are elderly or suffering from chronic diseases.

However, it may still be possible to pass the virus on, even after vaccination, which is why those who are vaccinated should continue to observe social distancing and wear masks. All vaccines, including those for Covid-19, are evaluated in clinical trials. They are only approved when studies have shown that the vaccine significantly reduces the probability of contracting the virus and is safe to use. Vaccination is an important part of the measures being adopted worldwide to help stop the pandemic. Other measures include wearing masks, social distancing, washing or sanitising hands and staying at home, which together reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others.  It is hoped that if the majority of people are vaccinated this will create what is termed herd immunity and bring an end to the rapid spread of the virus. This would stop the growing negative impact the virus is having on education, the economy, healthcare and countless other activities of a functioning society.

How do the vaccines work?

Vaccines work by stimulating your immune system to recognise and fight against a foreign pathogen if you are exposed to it. There are several types of Covid 19 vaccines that are being administered such as viral vector, messenger RNA (mRNA), protein subunits and inactivated viruses. None of them uses any live material from the virus. The mRNA vaccines give instructions to your cells to make a harmless piece of spike protein such as is found on the surface of the Covid-19 virus. The immune system then learns to recognise and produce antibodies against the protein. If you come into contact with the virus your immune system will recognise the spike protein and generate the antibodies needed to fight against it.

Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different harmless virus (the vector) inside the shell of which is harmless protein from a Covid-19 virus spike. The genetic material instructs cells to manufacture copies of the protein, which prompts the body to build up antibodies against it.

The vaccines are a safe way to build up protection against the Covid-19 virus, which can bring about life-threatening complications. Even though it affects certain groups less seriously than others based on age, health and other factors, it is still impossible to predict how the coronavirus will affect any individual. Having been infected by Covid-19 may offer some natural immune protection.

However health scientists and experts do not know how long that immunity lasts. Even those who have already had Covid-19 are therefore encouraged to be vaccinated.

Getting vaccinated creates an antibody response that protects you without your having to experience the illness. Both natural immunity and immunity produced by a vaccine are important aspects of protection against Covid-19 which experts are still studying.

Getting vaccinated

Because vaccination is voluntary, despite the fact that it is desirable to have the majority of the population vaccinated if the Covid-19 pandemic is to be overcome, some people are unsure about whether to be vaccinated or not.

However, health experts worldwide believe it is important for as many people as possible to be vaccinated. All approved vaccines have been judged safe and effective, although their efficacy against new strains of the virus is being monitored. Given the seriousness of Covid-19, the speed with which it is transmitted and the number of deaths that have resulted from it, particularly in countries with large populations, governments the world over see mass vaccination as the only hope for an early return to normal social and economic activity. Health experts seem to have no doubt that vaccination is beneficial, minimises the chances of infection and that, if infection does occur, prevents the person infected from becoming seriously ill.

None of the Covid-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes Covid-19. Any fear that you could become infected with Covid-19 through vaccination is, therefore, unjustified. It is impossible, because the vaccines do not contain the live virus. The benefits of vaccination for individuals, especially those most vulnerable to becoming seriously ill, seems clear.

While most people suffer no ill effects from vaccination, apart from perhaps temporary pain at the injection site, some people do suffer side effects, as is the case with most medication. Possible side effects apart from soreness at the injection site include headaches, chills, fever and fatigue. They are not a cause for concern, as they are the result of the body building up its immune system to fight against the virus. They normally disappear on their own. They are certainly less severe than the serious illness that can result from Covid-19 infection.

Those who have allergies should alert the health professionals carrying out the vaccination, in case they are allergic to any element of the vaccine. Likewise, those with underlying conditions, for whom it is particularly important that they be vaccinated, should make their condition known. It is important to obtain credible vaccine information from reliable sources such as the Ministry of Health and Childcare, World Health Organisation and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Social media is certainly not the right source of information, given the amount of fake news that is spread through it.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build up immunity after vaccination. This means that if you are infected with Covid-19 just before or just after vaccination, the vaccine will not have had enough time to provide protection.

Most vaccines require two injections to complete the vaccination process, with the period between them depending on the type of vaccine. It is important after initial vaccination that you return for the second injection at the right time.

Experts are still learning about how long vaccines protect against Covid-19 in real-world conditions. The availability of vaccines does not decrease the need for safety measures to help beat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even after inoculation, you should practise good personal hygiene, including frequent hand washing, wear a face mask in public and practise social distancing. You should also avoid prolonged contact with crowds indoors or even outside.

While the risk of becoming infected yourself has been minimised by your vaccination you could still become infected and, while you are unlikely to become seriously ill, the possibility of your passing on the virus to someone else is still there.

The information in this article is provided as a public service by the CimasiGo wellness programme, which is designed to promote good health. It is provided for general information only and should not be construed as medical advice. Readers should consult their doctor or clinic on any matter related to their health or the treatment of any health problem.

The information in this article is provided as a public service by the Cimas iGo Wellness programme, which is designed to promote good health. It is provided for general information only and should not be construed as medical advice. Readers should consult their doctor or clinic on any matter related to their health or the treatment of any health problem. — igo@cimas.co.zw or WhatsApp 0772 161 829 or phone 024-2773 0663.


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