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Vaccination guide: Get a jab

16 May 2021

As Oman gets ready for opening up its vaccination drive from June, most people are still confused about many aspects concerning the efficacy of the vaccines as well as the individual response and uncertain aftermath.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in its ‘COVID-19 advice for the public: Getting vaccinated’ states, “Take whatever vaccine is made available to you first, even if you have already had COVID-19. It is important to be vaccinated as soon as possible once it’s your turn and not wait.  Approved COVID-19 vaccines provide a high degree of protection against getting seriously ill and dying from the disease, although no vaccine is 100% protective.”

 

WHO stresses that vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19, and getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Vaccines train our immune system to recognise the targeted virus and create antibodies to fight off the disease without getting the disease itself. 

After vaccination, the body is ready to fight the virus if it is later exposed to it, thereby preventing illness. Most people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, develop an immune response within the first few weeks itself. However, research is still on regarding how strong and lasting that immune response will be, and how it varies between different people.

 

Who should get vaccinated

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people 18 years and older, including those with pre-existing conditions of any kind, including auto-immune disorders. These conditions include: hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver and kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled.

If supplies are limited in your area, discuss your situation with your care provider if you:

Have a compromised immune system

Are pregnant (if you are already breastfeeding, you should continue after vaccination)

Have a history of severe allergies, particularly to a vaccine (or any of the ingredients in the vaccine)

Are severely frail

 

What to expect after vaccination

Stay at the place where you get vaccinated for at least 15 minutes afterwards, just in case you have an unusual reaction, so health workers can help you. 

Check when you should come in for a second dose – if needed. Most of the vaccines available are two-dose vaccines. Check with your care provider whether you need to get a second dose and when you should get it. Second doses help boost the immune response and strengthen immunity. 

Side effects

In most cases, minor side effects are normal. Common side effects after vaccination, which indicate that a person’s body is building protection to COVID-19 infection include:

Arm soreness

Mild fever

Tiredness

Headaches

Muscle or joint aches

Contact your care provider if there is redness or tenderness (pain) where you got the shot that increases after 24 hours, or if side effects do not go away after a few days.

If you experience an immediate severe allergic reaction to a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should not receive additional doses of the vaccine. It’s extremely rare for severe health reactions to be directly caused by vaccines.

Taking painkillers such as paracetamol before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent side effects is not recommended. This is because it is not known how painkillers may affect how well the vaccine works. However, you may take paracetamol or other painkillers if you do develop side effects such as pain, fever, headache or muscle aches after vaccination.

 

Two doses

Currently, for COVID-19 vaccines, two doses are required.  The first dose presents antigens – proteins that stimulate the production of antibodies – to the immune system for the first time. Scientists call this priming the immune response. The second dose acts as a booster, ensuring the immune system develops a memory response to fight off the virus if it encounters it again.

Because of the urgent need for a COVID-19 vaccine, initial clinical trials of vaccine candidates were performed with the shortest possible duration between doses. Therefore an interval of 21–28 days (3–4 weeks) between doses is recommended by WHO. Depending on the vaccine, the interval may be extended for up to 42 days – or even up to 12 weeks for some vaccines – on the basis of current evidence. WHO recommends that a vaccine from the same manufacturer be used for both doses if you require two doses.

 

Continue taking precautions

While a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent serious illness and death, we still don’t know the extent to which it keeps you from being infected and passing the virus on to others. The more we allow the virus to spread, the more opportunity the virus has to change.

Continue to take actions to slow and eventually stop the spread of the virus:

Keep at least 1 metre distance from others

Wear a mask, especially in crowded, closed and poorly ventilated settings.

Clean your hands frequently

Cover any cough or sneeze in your bent elbow

When indoors with others, ensure good ventilation, such as by opening a window

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Go for it, we did!

Madny al Bakri

As for me, I didn’t feel any side effects after taking the vaccine. In fact, after both doses, I was on the tennis court on the very same days. I believe, different people react differently.

Yuthar al Rawahi

I had no side effects for two days, just felt a little feverish towards evening. I would advice everyone eligible to take the vaccine to do so. We are fortunate to have a government that provides the vaccines for us.

Dr Nasser Palangi

I am very thankful to the government for making the vaccine available for expatriates residing here. It was well organised and I had no problem at all after the first dose. I feel more confident now, as I await the second dose.

Murrawat Ahmed

Since I have taken the first dose three weeks ago, I feel that my immune system has become stronger than before. Now, I feel less tired after a long walk. I am thankful to the health authorities for providing the same.

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