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Department of Infectious Disease

Answers to Common Questions: COVID Vaccination in Elderly People

Posted On: Mar 10, 2021

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Covid 19 Treatment in Delhi

1. What are the 2 vaccines that have been approved in India recently?

COVISHIELD and COVAXIN are the 2 vaccines recently approved in India.

2. Are both the vaccines the same?

No, both are not the same.

COVISHIELD manufactured by the Serum Institute of India is a Chimpanzee Adenovirus vector vaccine encoding the SARS-CoV-2 Spike (S) glycoprotein. The other vaccine COVAXIN developed by Bharat Biotech contains the inactive.

3. Is there enough evidence to suggest that these vaccines are effective and safe?

Both the vaccines have gone through rigorous animal and human trials before they have been approved for use. Phase 3 trial for COVISHIELD, proved the efficacy to be around 70%, with no major adverse events. The duration of protection, however, is yet to be established.

Data available for COVAXIN also suggest the efficacy of 60-70% with no major side effects. This vaccine has been currently granted "Restricted Emergency approval for use" in India.

4. Who can get vaccinated?

The government has decided to roll out the vaccine in a prioritized way, the healthcare workers being the priority followed by the front-line workers. Population aged 45 years and above with existing diseases and people above 60 years with or without existing diseases will be part of the vaccination drive soon followed by other age groups. Clinical trials on children are underway.

5. How is the vaccine administered and how many shots are required?

Both available vaccines are given in the muscle (Intra Muscular route) and are recommended for administration in 2 separate doses 0.5 ml each within 4 weeks interval.

It has been demonstrated that if the duration between the 2 vaccines has been increased by 12 weeks the efficacy of the vaccine increases significantly, hence if possible same can be considered.

6. Are the vaccines interchangeable?

No, you should receive both shots of the same vaccine.

7. Does the vaccine contain a live virus?

No, The COVID 19 vaccines do not contain live viruses, but only a part of the viral protein or inactive virus which enables your body to produce neutralizing antibodies against it.

8. Is it safe to use the vaccine in the elderly population?

As per the safety data available, the elderly population can also receive the vaccine.

9. Is there any dose adjustment necessary for the elderly population?

No dose adjustment is required; they can receive the same dose as mentioned in Q# 5.

10. Is there any absolute contraindication for the elderly population?

Hypersensitivity or allergy to any active substance or the excipients of the vaccine is an absolute contraindication for any individual.

Therefore any allergies during previous vaccination (including COVID vaccine and other vaccines as well) and any drug allergies should be reported. It is advised to seek an Infectious Disease Specialist in Delhi for consultation if there is any history suggesting the same.

Q11. Can the elderly with ongoing fever and acute illness other than COVID-19 receive the vaccine?

It is advised to postpone the vaccine till the acute symptoms have settled completely, however minor infections such as cold and low-grade fever should not delay the vaccination. It is advisable to try and consult your doctor before vaccination if active symptoms are there.

Q12. Am I eligible for vaccination, if I am above 65 years and have recently recovered from COVID-19?

Yes, you can also take the vaccine, although it is advisable for a patient with acute infection to wait for 14 days after symptom resolution.

Q13. I am 65 years old, what adverse effects should I watch for after taking the vaccine?

The common side effects are usually mild, like injection site pain, fatigue, fever, headache, nausea and joint pain or muscle ache. The same is expected in the elderly population as well.

Q14. Is it safe to take the vaccine for an elderly who is on immunosuppressive therapy?

Yes, individuals on immunosuppressive treatment for cancer, autoimmune diseases and infections like HIV etc. can also receive the vaccine shot. Although, it is thought that the individual on immunosuppressive therapy for any reason, might not be able to mount an adequate immune response to the vaccine and response might vary depending on the type of immunosuppressive therapy they are getting.

The benefit they get from the vaccine might not be consistent, but there is no reason to believe that vaccine should be deferred on these grounds.

Q15. I have had my flu vaccine, do I need the Covid 19 vaccine as well?

The flu vaccine does not protect you from Covid 19. It is advisable to take Covid 19 vaccine also. However, they should ideally be separated by at least a week.

Q16. Should the elderly be concerned if they are taking blood thinners or have coagulation disorders before they take their shots?

The vaccine is given into the muscle as mentioned earlier; hence there can be a risk of bleeding into the muscle or bruising following vaccination. This might vary depending upon the type of anticoagulation and severity of thrombocytopenia (low platelets). It is advisable to consult your physician in case of any doubts, as the decision has to be individualised.

Q17. I have Diabetes with Coronary artery disease. Can I get a vaccine?

Yes, patients with comorbid diseases including diabetes, HIV, CKD, cancer, post transplants, cardiac disorders as well as chronic lung diseases can get the vaccine.

Q18. How long the immunity from the vaccine lasts in the elderly?

There is limited data on the duration of protection; studies are underway to establish the same.

Q19. Can I get rid of mask/social distancing after getting vaccinated?

To protect yourself and your loved ones you still need to practice social distancing wear a face mask, observe hand sanitization, and all government guidelines.

Q20. Why is vaccine so important for COVID—19?

We have seen in the past that vaccines have been the answer to most of the infectious diseases that have affected humankind for example Polio, Smallpox.

With the vaccine available, it’s a relief that we are moving towards a lasting solution to COVID. Visit an infectious Disease treatment hospital in Delhi for the treatment. The vaccines are adequately checked for safety and efficacy before they are approved for public use. Hence with minor acceptable adverse events, it is recommended to get vaccinated at the earliest.

To know more about covid vaccination in Delhi or elderly covid vaccination in Delhi, contact Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka, Delhi.

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