Since early 2021, governments around the world, including Pakistan have been providing COVID-19 vaccination to help protect people against the Novel Coronavirus. As vaccines roll out, people have many queries regarding how vaccines work.
In this article, we will provide answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccination.
What are Vaccines?
According to World Health Organization (WHO), vaccines are used to train our immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when it’s exposed to a disease. However, because vaccines contain only killed or weakened forms of germs like viruses or bacteria, they do not cause the disease or put you at risk of its complications.
Vaccines treat diseases that cannot be controlled by other public health measures alone. They aim to reduce and eliminate highly contagious diseases, with severe effects on human health, with high mortality.
How Does our Body Defend Against COVID-19?
When the virus that causes COVID-19 invades our bodies, they attack and multiply. This invasion, called an infection, is what causes illness. Our immune system uses several tools to fight infection. Blood contains red cells, which carry oxygen to tissues and organs, and white or immune cells, which fight infection. Different types of white blood cells fight infection in different ways:
- Macrophages are white blood cells that swallow up and digest germs and dead or dying cells. The macrophages leave behind parts of the invading germs called antigens. The body identifies antigens as dangerous and stimulates antibodies to attack them.
- B-lymphocytes are defensive white blood cells. They produce antibodies that attack the pieces of the virus left behind by the macrophages.
- T-lymphocytes are another type of defensive white blood cell. They attack cells in the body that have already been infected.
The first time a person is infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, it can take several days or weeks for their body to make and use all the germ-fighting tools needed to get over the infection. After the infection, the person’s immune system remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that disease.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About COVID-19 Vaccination
Q 1. What types of COVID-19 vaccines are being developed? How do they work?
Scientists around the world are developing many potential vaccines for COVID-19. These vaccines are all designed to teach the body’s immune system to safely recognize and block the virus that causes COVID-19.
According to World Health Organization, several different types of potential vaccines for COVID-19 are in development, including:
1. Inactivated or weakened virus vaccines, which use a form of the virus that has been inactivated or weakened so it doesn’t cause disease, but still generates an immune response.
2. Protein-based vaccines, which use harmless fragments of proteins or protein shells that mimic the COVID-19 virus to safely generate an immune response.
3. Viral vector vaccines, which use a virus that has been genetically engineered so that it can’t cause disease but produces coronavirus proteins to safely generate an immune response.
4. RNA and DNA vaccines, a cutting-edge approach that uses genetically engineered RNA or DNA to generate a protein that itself safely prompts an immune response.
Q 2. Why should I get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Without vaccines, we are at risk of serious illness and disability from diseases like measles, meningitis, pneumonia, tetanus, and polio. Many of these diseases can be life-threatening. WHO estimates that vaccines save between 2 and 3 million lives every year.
Two key reasons to get vaccinated are to protect ourselves and to protect those around us. Because not everyone can be vaccinated – including very young babies, those who are seriously ill or have certain allergies – they depend on others being vaccinated to ensure they are also safe from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Q 3. Does COVID-19 vaccine provide long term protection?
According to WHO, it’s too early to know if COVID-19 vaccines will provide long-term protection. Additional research is needed to answer this question. However, it’s encouraging that available data suggests that most people who recover from COVID-19 develop an immune response that provides at least some period of protection against reinfection – although we’re still learning how strong this protection is, how long it lasts, and the effect of new COVID-19 variants on previously infected and vaccinated individuals.
Q 4. Can I get vaccinated and still contract COVID-19?
In general, no vaccine is 100% effective. Therefore, we should continue to take the recommended precautions to avoid infection, (use a mask, social distance, hygiene and cleanliness of the area where they live or work) even if we are vaccinated. Vaccines against COVID-19 seem to reduce the chance of someone getting the disease. Each vaccine has been tested in more than 20,000 people in various countries and has an acceptable safety profile. It takes a few weeks for someone to develop immunity and be protected after the vaccine is given. Some people may get COVID-19 even though they have been vaccinated, but the disease may be less severe.
Q 5. If I have already had COVID-19, do I still need to get vaccinated?
People who have gotten sick are recovered from COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.
Contact Government of Pakistan’s Sehat Tahaffuz Helpline at 1166 if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Q 6. What can I do to protect myself from getting COVID-19 until I am able to get vaccinated?
To protect yourself, follow these recommendations:
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
- Stay at least 2 meters from others
- Avoid crowded and poorly ventilated places
- Wash your hands often
Read this article on our website for more information on precautionary measures.
Q 7. Do I need to take COVID-19 precautions after I get vaccinated?
Yes, individuals who get the COVID-19 vaccination still need to practice infection prevention precautions. Keep your mask on and continue staying at least 6 feet from people outside your house, until further notice. Vaccines do not stop the coronavirus from entering your body; they only prevent you from developing moderate to severe COVID-19. It’s not yet clear if people vaccinated for COVID-19 can still carry and transmit the virus, even when they themselves don’t get sick.
You can visit the Government of Pakistan COVID-19 Health Advisory Platform to get updates on the situation. You can also call the Sehat Tahaffuz Helpline at 1166 made available by Ministry of National Health Services Regulations & Coordination, Government of Pakistan.
To receive personalized guidance on different service options in the country, including COVID-19 services and vaccination, you can send us a private message on our Bolo Facebook Page, Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.