There were no major side effects experienced by the more than 500 healthcare workers who were administered the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday, Additional Director of the Health Department, Dr SS Nongbri has told Highland Post.
Out of 509 staff given the Covishield vaccine, made by the Serum Institute of India in collaboration with Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, only four (less than 1 percent) experienced side effects, which were only minor.
“The side effects of the four staff were very minor and like the side effects one gets when taking DPT (a combination vaccine to protect against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) or measles vaccination and, to date, there has been no record of any major side effects,” he said.
Vaccination is voluntary and some health workers have expressed reservations about the vaccine. However, there is proper screening of recipients being carried out as people with certain medical conditions, severe allergies or a weak immune system cannot take the vaccine, the doctor said.
In addition, those people who have recovered from Covid-19 are also not able to receive the injection, at least for now. This includes Dr Nongbri, who contracted the virus when he was Joint Director of Shillong Civil Hospital. As of right now there is no clarity on how long those who have tested positive for the coronavirus have to wait before being given the vaccine. However, they should have developed some natural immunity to the disease.
Informing that the vaccination has also started voluntarily for personnel in the police and defence forces on January 16, he said that it is important that frontline workers are immunized as they are likely to be in contact with high-risk patients.