This article is a part of a series by The Better India to share verified information about COVID-19 care. While several posts on various aspects of fighting COVID-19 are being circulated on social media and messaging services like WhatsApp, we urge you not to trust unverified content. To separate fact from fiction, we will be sharing the videos and content with doctors and experts and bring you their responses with scientific research-backed information.
WhatsApp groups are abuzz with questions about where, when and how one can get vaccinated. With a shortage of vaccines and the ‘recommended gap’ between doses being changed ever so often, there is a lot of confusion about when you should take the vaccine.
Dr Vikas Maurya, Director Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, and Dr Mrinal Sircar, Director and Head, Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Noida, help us understand what the ideal gap between vaccines should be.
Here, we have also added the guidelines enlisted by Center for Disease Control (CDC) and India’s Health Ministry.
1. What is the ideal gap between doses for Covaxin and Covidshield, respectively?
Dr Maurya: The first dose is to prime the body and the second is the booster shot. It depends on which vaccine you have opted to get the first time around. The recommendation for Covaxin is between 4 to 6 weeks wait time between the first jab and the second. For Covishield, while the gap started off with 4 to 6 weeks, it has now been increased to 16 weeks.
Unfortunately, we are not privy to the vaccine research data that is used to determine the gap that is recommended between the two jabs. There might come a time when we get a one-shot vaccine.
Dr Sircar: The current guideline by India’s Health Ministry prescribes a wait period of four weeks for Covaxin and between 12 to 16 weeks for the second jab of Covishield. The UK also followed the 12 week wait period between the two jabs and this could also be to ensure that more vaccines are there to go around. This would also mean that a larger population would be able to get the first jab, which is a good thing.
Gap between 2 doses of #CovishieldVaccine has been increased to 12-16 weeks from 6-8 weeks currently.
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) May 13, 2021
2. If you have contracted COVID-19, how long should you wait before the first jab?
Dr Maurya: The recommendation that was made early on suggests that one should wait between four to eight weeks after making a full recovery to get the vaccine jab. The CDC guidelines however say that one can get the jab after the resolution of the COVID-19 symptoms. If you have been a recipient of plasma therapy during your treatment for COVID-19, then you should wait for 90 days [12 weeks] before getting vaccinated.
Dr Sircar: One should wait between four to eight weeks after recovering to get the vaccine jab.
CDC: As per the recommendation of the CDC, one should wait for 12 weeks from the day one tests positive for COVID-19, if he/she has not received the vaccine.
Indian government: As per the Union Health Ministry’s current protocol, it is recommended that one should wait for at least two to eight weeks after a 14-day recovery from COVID-19 before getting the first dose of the vaccine.
4. Should grandparents above 90 years of age be vaccinated?
Dr Maurya: While it is not necessary, given the risk factors, it is better that they also get vaccinated. It is not worth the risk of not getting vaccinated. So, I would recommend that everyone get vaccinated.
Dr Sircar: There is no upper age limit to get the jab and therefore I see no reason why they should not be getting it. The only thing to be mindful about is crowded places. One must ensure that strict COVID protocols are being followed at the vaccination sites. Try and take them at a time when it is not too crowded and refrain from consuming any beverage or food after the shot just to avoid lowering one’s mask.
5. Will the vaccine be available for children in the near future?
Dr Maurya: Getting children vaccinated is a necessity. Most likely, in the next six months or so a vaccine should be made available for children above two years of age. That will help in curtailing this pandemic. With the fear of the third wave impacting children, a vaccine is the need of the hour.
Dr Sircar: In the US, the Pfizer vaccine for children below the age of 12 is under trial. In India, Covaxin has started trials for children and once it is cleared, the vaccine will be available for children below 12. One cannot say how long this will take, but once there is positive data, the vaccine will be rolled out.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)