Coronavirus vaccination in the country would be voluntary, the Union Health Ministry has said. However, it has advised people to take the inoculation shots to remain safe from the virus. "Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary. However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of the vaccine for protecting one-self against this disease and also to limit the spread of this disease to the close contacts including family members, friends, relatives and co-workers," the ministry said. It advised people to take the vaccine even if they have a history of COVID-19 infection. Anyone taking medicines for illnesses like cancer, diabetes, hypertension are considered high-risk category and they need to get vaccination, it said.
The ministry also said that the vaccine introduced in India will be as effective as any vaccine developed in other countries. It added that the protective level of antibodies generally develops two weeks after the second dose is received.
The ministry listed a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday night and responded to questions like if taking a vaccine was mandatory, how long does it take for the antibodies to develop and if it was necessary for a COVID recovered person to take the vaccine.
It also spoke about the different stages the vaccine trials are at in India. The ministry said that the government is geared up to launch the vaccine for COVID-19 soon. Oxford vaccine, Bharat Biotech-ICMR's candidate, Zydus Cadila vaccine, Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, one by Gennova and one by Biological E Ltd, Hyderabad in collaboration with MIT are undergoing clinical trials.
Talking about the safety of the vaccine, the ministry said, "COVID-19 vaccine will be introduced only when the safety is proven. As is true for other vaccines, the common side effects in some individuals could be mild fever, pain, etc. at the site of injection."
States have been asked to start making arrangements to deal with vaccine-related side-effects, it said. Initially the vaccine would be given to the priority group, health care and front-line workers, and people who are 50 or above. Beneficiaries would be informed through their registered mobile number. The ministry said registration of a beneficiary is mandatory for vaccination for COVID-19. Only after registration the information on the session site to visit and time will be shared. Upon getting the due dose of vaccine, the beneficiary will receive an SMS on their registered mobile number. After all doses of vaccine are administered, a QR code based certificate will also be sent to the registered mobile number of the beneficiary.
Identification proof with photo including driving licence, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) job card, PAN Card, bank of post office passbooks, passports, pension document, service identity card issued by central or state governments and voter ID may be produced at the time of registration.
"We request you to rest at the vaccination centre for at least half an hour after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. Inform the nearest health authorities/ANM/ASHA in case you feel any discomfort or uneasiness subsequently," said the ministry adding that COVID-19 protocol must be followed even after the inoculation.