Covid vaccine roll out in Australia

As Australia gets ready for its COVID-19 vaccination program roll out, there are some tips from India where the vaccination has already begun – to assess what Aussies can expect when it actually start to happen. India and Australia have one common vaccine – Oxford-Astra-Zeneca – being part of the roll out plan, hence the relevance of tips. The other vaccine to be used in is India’s own vaccine called Covaxin, developed by local pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech.

In India the roll out began on January 16 and the government like in Australia planned to inoculate 30 million healthcare and front line workers before the program is opened to people above 50 years of age. The government has set up 3,000 vaccination points across India, each with a target of inoculating 100 people a day. India’s vaccination process is two shots given four weeks apart to fully vaccinate the person.

By August, India aims to have inoculated 300 million people.

India’s vaccination process is two shots given four weeks apart to fully vaccinate the person while in Australia the second shot will be given 21 days after the first one.

To dispel the myths or hesitancy about the vaccine let us look at what if any side effects or symptoms have manifested in people who have been given the shot.

First things first – the global consensus seems to suggest – the vaccine is SAFE and EFFECTIVE.

What about side effects?

People have reported different intensity side effects from person to person, dose to dose with different vaccines. In India there seems to be a large group of the population not willing to take the shot due to its emerging side effects of redness around the spot of jab, pain, swelling, chills, headache, tiredness, and fever. Dispelling the hesitancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), came out telling them that these side effects only indicate your body is building protection against the virus.

Similar side effects have also been reported in the US and other countries. Some people have even opined it is better to endure these side effects than live in fear of COVID-19 infection.

In Australia the first vaccine that will hit Australians’ arms is Pfizer-BioNTech.  Although Australia has ordered 10 million doses which need to be delivered and stored below 70 degrees which may be a nightmare for the logistics and transport companies engaged to do the job.

The second vaccine ordered for Australians by the government is Oxford-AstraZeneca which is also part of India’s roll out.

After some questions raised in Germany about its effectiveness in the over 65 group, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has given the vaccine all-clear – there’s no risk for the elderly, the TGA has said.

Australia has some 53.8 million doses of this vaccine ordered, but the TGA’s approval is pending.  India has given the vaccine Emergency approval and is using the vaccine to inoculate its population.

  • Australia has secured 53.8 million doses of this vaccine
  • 3.8 million doses will be delivered to Australia in early 2021
  • 50 million doses will be manufactured in Australia in monthly batches. CSL will manufacture these doses on behalf of AstraZeneca.

According to the Australian health department, it will be normal to feel (similar to those reported in India and in the US) some pain in your arm receiving the injection, some redness, swelling and even some mild fever. If that happens, it should not be taken to mean that the vaccine is not safe or effective. Quite the contrary.

In some cases, people may need Panadol or paracetamol but that may be all they’ll need.

A finding published on February 2 in medRxiv- a research done in India indicates people who had already been infected with the virus are more likely to witness the vaccine side effects than those who have never come in contact with COVID strains. The researchers found that the adverse reaction after the first dose (to those who had already been infected) is similar to the more intense reactions reported after the second dose by patients who haven’t been infected with COVID.

From this finding, many researchers deduced that COVID survivors may only need one vaccine dose. But that remains to be settled. For now, anyone taking the shot will be taking two shots 21 days apart and will be fully vaccinated.

Side effects (easily manageable) can show up, but nothing unusual has been recorded to date.

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