Planning to get your Covid booster shot? Dos and don'ts to follow
- As the Covid booster drive for 18 and above begins in India today onwards, here are some tips by experts you should follow to avoid side-effects.
To strengthen its fight against the emerging variants of coronavirus, the latest one being XE variant, Indian government has allowed the third dose of Covid-19 vaccines for people aged 18 and above at private vaccination centres, April 10 onwards. The booster shot or precautionary dose is an additional dose or doses of vaccine which is given after the protection from the original shots begins to wane over time. The government has said there should be a nine-month gap between the second and the booster dose. (Also read: Booster doses for all adults from today at private vaccine centres: 10 points)
"While the virus is changing its behaviour and new variants are evading pre-existing immunity, especially immunity by vaccination, getting vaccination or booster doses could offer some degree of protection, especially against severe disease from whatever be the variant. However, vaccine immunity wanes with time and by 6 months after second dose it reduces to 20 per cent," says Dr Mallu Gangadhar Reddy, Senior Consultant Pulmonologist, Yashoda Hospital, Hyderabad.
"Various published results prove the benefits of booster dose in reducing the rate of infection. Therefore, it is very important to receive the booster dose and also to vaccinate children to achieve herd immunity, so that this disease becomes no longer a troublesome," adds Dr Reddy.
If you are eligible for a booster dose and planning to get it anytime soon, here are some precautions advised by experts.
"While taking your booster dose, make sure that you are not suffering from any influenza like illness or any other fever or weakness causing disease. Don't go for any mix and match as their role is not clear yet. Don't stop your blood thinning meds or immunosuppressants like methotrexate without consulting your doctor," says Dr Honey Savla, Consultant Internal Medicine, Wockhardt Hospital.
"On the other hand, do not worry if you have fever or arm soreness or muscle pain after the dose. While going to vaccination centre wear your mask and follow social distancing. The most vulnerable group is elderly, immunocompromised, post transplant patient and frontline workers. They will require annual or 2 yearly booster dose after the ongoing research shows promising role," adds Dr Savla.
Dr. Santosh Kumar Jha, Medical Superintendent, Porvoo Transition Care opens up on all the dos and don'ts one should follow before getting a booster dose or third dose of Covid-19, to avoid side-effects of the vaccine.
1. Drink a lot of water: The most common side effects of vaccines include muscle pain, fatigue, headache, and fever. Being adequately hydrated will not only prevent you from feeling sick but may also help to shorten the duration and intensity of side effects.
2. Eat a well-balanced diet: To avoid serious side effects, a well-balanced diet is essential. Super foods like green vegetables, turmeric, and garlic, that are high in nutrients and boost immunity, should be included in your diet. Seasonal fruits rich in Vitamin C can also aid in fighting the vaccine side effects.
3. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep: When you get vaccinated, the body relies on immune responses to develop protection. It is recommended that recently vaccinated people sleep for at least 7-8 hours as sleep deprivation can result in suppressed immunity since the body rebuilds its defence mechanisms during sleep.
4. Do some light exercise or physical activity: Listen to your body. Exercise supports blood circulation that can help in reducing vaccine side effects. It is recommended to do something less strenuous in comparison to your regular exercise routine. For example, going for a light walk.
5. Continue with Covid-19 appropriate behaviour: The most important thing to do post-vaccination is to continue wearing masks, regularly washing, or sanitizing your hands, maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowded places and touching surfaces.
6. Vaccinated lactating mothers should continue breastfeeding. The antibodies produced through Covid-19 vaccination could pass on to the babies though milk and it may also offer immunity to the baby like other vaccines given in pregnancy do. Pregnant women can also take the vaccine, as approved by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare India and WHO.
1. Avoid alcohol and tobacco: Although there are no approved scientific studies that quantify the effect of alcohol or smoking on vaccination, it is advisable to avoid tobacco or alcohol consumption as it may aggravate and worsen vaccine side effects making the experience more stressful and unpleasant. Alcohol also affects the body’s immune system negatively and there is a chance that the immune response to the vaccine may not be as effective if there is excessive alcohol in the system. The same goes for tobacco consumption as well.
2. Do not think that you are completely immune to Covid-19 after vaccination: No vaccine has a 100 per cent success rate. You may contract Covid-19 even after being vaccinated but chances are the infection would be much milder. The vaccine only protects you from hospitalisation, death, and serious disease. You can still be an asymptomatic carrier.
3. Do not delay consulting a doctor if you experience Covid-19 symptoms even after vaccination: Remember that the vaccination takes a while to kick in, and you will develop immunity only a couple of weeks after the second dose.
4. Avoid strenuous physical activity for at least 2-3 days post vaccination: As your body needs times to recover from the side effects of the vaccine, avoid putting it in stress.
5. Do not miss other necessary vaccines: Some other adult vaccines may be unavoidable and should not be missed out in case of Covid-19 vaccination like pneumonia and flu vaccines. However, it is advisable to keep a gap of at least 28 days between Covid-19 vaccine and other necessary vaccine(s).