With the approval of COVID-19 vaccines, the end of the pandemic is in sight. An important aspect of this is how citizens cooperate with and adhere to the vaccine rollout process as defined by the government. While the vast majority of our country is waiting eagerly in anticipation of getting a vaccine, there are a few who are either unwilling or unsure about getting vaccinated.
Scientists around the world have warned that vaccine hesitancy - the refusal to get vaccinated despite the availability of the vaccines, can prolong the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighting the scientifically proven benefits of getting vaccine shots can play a major role in allaying the suspicions surrounding vaccines.
Major benefits of getting COVID-19 vaccine shots
Based on the currently available scientific evidence, getting a COVID-19 vaccine will offer the following main benefits:
- COVID-19 vaccination will protect individuals from contracting the infection
The approved COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be effective at preventing Coronavirus infection. During the clinical trials, all the approved vaccines were thoroughly evaluated for safety and efficacy. Only those vaccines that substantially reduced the risk of infection without causing any major side effects have been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) globally and in India.
Even after the EUA nod, the drug regulatory authorities will continue to monitor the safety of the vaccines. The safety monitoring systems will be used to track adverse reactions during the vaccination. This helps the authorities pick up adverse events that were not observed during the clinical trials. If a new kind of adverse event is seen, the experts will study it to determine if it is a safety concern. Depending on the study outcome, experts will decide if changes are required in vaccine recommendation. This helps ensure that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination surpass the risks for people getting vaccinated.
The approved COVID-19 vaccines will reduce the risk of serious illness in patients who have already tested positive for the infection. These vaccines will also play a crucial role in generating herd immunity which will be beneficial for people who cannot get vaccinated for medical or other reasons.
- Vaccination is a better way of building immunity against COVID-19 infection
COVID-19 infection is believed to provide some natural protection against re-infection. This natural protection is referred to as infection-acquired immunity. According to some studies, COVID-19 infection may provide natural immunity against reinfection for a fixed number of days. However, experts believe that the natural immunity provided by the COVID-19 may not be robust enough.
Moreover, there is no way to determine how COVID-19 will affect a particular individual. While most people experience mild-to-moderate symptoms, some can experience severe and life-threatening complications. As a result, the risks posed by the COVID-19 infection outweigh the benefits offered by natural immunity. On the other hand, the immunity generated by the COVID-19 vaccines will protect against infection without causing significant sickness or complications.
- COVID-19 vaccines will play a critical role in ending the pandemic
The risk of COVID-19 infection can be reduced by wearing masks, following proper hand hygiene, and practising physical distancing. However, these measures are not enough in the long run. In order to end the pandemic, a significant section of the population will have to be vaccinated for COVID-19. The vaccination will protect individuals from infection and reduce the risk of further spread of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. Combined with preventative measures, COVID- 19 vaccines will play a major role in bringing about an end to the pandemic.
It is understandable that the vaccine rollout across a country as large as India will not be an easy task. Addressing the problem posed by vaccine hesitancy will be one of the major challenges in the coming days. People who are reluctant to get vaccinated should be informed about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines. It is important to remember that the global fight against COVID-19 can only be won when all of us play our part - getting vaccinated when we need to do so.
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