Busting The Myth: Getting Vaccinated Is A Safer And Wiser Decision

  • The author of this article is Mr. Pradeep Multani, Sr. Vice President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Introduction

Vaccines are antigenic preparation that trigger immune system of the recipient against specific infective agent or their toxin. Antigen is any substance (infectious microbe or other substance) against which body generates specific (immune) response by identifying it as foreign.

Human body has ability to ward off damage or disease by preventing microbes from gaining access into the body and to help eliminate those that do gain access. This constitutional body defence is called innate immunity which is non-specific and includes external physical barriers and chemical barriers such as skin and mucous membrane, antimicrobial substances, natural killer cells, phagocytes, inflammation, and fever. The non-specific immunity is inadequate for protection against many cases where microbe breach innate immunity, causing disease.

It is commonly observed when a patient recovers from certain diseases he is left with a high degree of immunity against that specified microbe. This type of immunity acquired after clinical or sub-clinical infection or by administration of antigenic preparation (vaccine) is called acquired immunity. Acquired immunity is specific to specific microbe and also has memory so that a second encounter of the antigen prompts an even more rapid and vigorous response.  Acquired immunity involves T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes etc. Acquired immunity is also obtained passively by administration of antibodies produced in another body and from mother to foetus.

VACCINES IN HUMAN HEALTH

Vaccines contain attenuated or killed micro-organisms or antigenic fractions or substances produced by the same pathogenic organisms so that the preparation is harmless whilst retaining their antigenic efficiency. The first vaccine was developed in 1978 since then vaccination has made an enormous contribution to global health. Today vaccination is the best means of preventing many infectious diseases. Under the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), Government of India is providing immunization nationally against Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Rubella, severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and Meningitis & Pneumonia caused by Hemophilus Influenza type B. Under UIP immunization is given sub-nationally against Rotavirus diarrhoea, Pneumococcal Pneumonia and Japanese Encephalitis. Detail of UIP can be found online at https://nhm.gov.in/index1.php?lang=1&level=2&sublinkid=824&lid=220. Two major achievements of UIP are elimination of polio and maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination.

COVID-19 VACCINE

COVID-19 is viral infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. Though no effective treatment is available, now several vaccines are available. In India two vaccines Covishield® (AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India) and Covaxin® (manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited) were granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization. Sputnik V has been granted EUA in April 2021. The detail of schedule, dose and all other relevant information are available online at https://www.mohfw.gov.in/covid_vaccination/vaccination/faqs.html#about-the-vaccine.

From 1798 when first vaccine was developed to now there are several safe and effective vaccines that prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. Like any vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild, short term side effects, such as a low-grade fever or pain or redness at the injection site. Most reactions to vaccines are mild and go away within a few days on their own. More serious or long-lasting side effects to vaccines are possible but extremely rare. Concerning safety, there are strict protections in place to help ensure the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines. Before receiving validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies, COVID-19 vaccines must undergo rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and efficacy.

CONCLUSION

Getting vaccinated is safer and wiser decision in fight against COVID-19. Unlike most drugs, whose benefit is restricted to the individual who takes the drug, prophylactic vaccines have the potential for far-reaching effects that encompass health service utilisation, general health and wellbeing, cognitive development and, ultimately, economic productivity. Getting vaccinated  is one part of managing COVID-19, in addition to the main preventive measures of staying at least 1 metre away from others, covering a cough or sneeze in your elbow, frequently cleaning your hands, wearing a mask, and avoiding poorly ventilated rooms.

PHD Chamber has also taken multiple initiatives (in form of vaccination camps) to only vaccinate its own employees but also the employees and their family members of the members companies. This has also helped the member companies to kick-start the working from offices/manufacturing units in line with the Government’s guidelines

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