If you are fully vaccinated, find new guidance for fully vaccinated people. If you are not vaccinated, find a vaccine. 

Vaccine registration was started on Sunday (16 May). Pakistan has so far approved five Covid vaccines: Sinopharm, Cansino, Sinovac, Sputnik, and AstraZeneca.

As the government’s vaccine drive picks up pace, Dawn.com reached out to Dr. Bushra Jamil, the president of the Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan and a professor at Aga Khan University Hospital on queries related to getting the Covid jab.

What you need to know:

Q: Do Covid-19 vaccines reduce the ability to make antibodies or affect the immune system?

Ans: No, vaccines do not suppress the immune system and do not reduce the ability to make antibodies.

Is vaccine being harmful to diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis? Ans: Vaccines are recommended for people with diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, etc. These are high-risk groups that must get vaccinated.

Q: Is there any category that should not be vaccinated?

Ans: Hospitalized patients and those with acute Covid-19 infection should not be vaccinated.

In addition, people with an allergic reaction to vaccine preservatives in past. It is important to check vaccine guidelines.

Q: Should people with hepatitis, tuberculosis, and HIV get vaccinated?

Ans: People with tuberculosis, HIV, and chronic hepatitis must get vaccinated. Following the guideline discuss your condition with your doctor in detail.

Q: Are pregnant women should be vaccinated?

Ans: All vaccines are safe for lactating mothers. Almost all vaccines are safe in pregnancy. However, for some vaccines, recommendations on risk versus benefit will be updated as more information becomes available.

Q: Why are children not being vaccinated?

Ans: Generally, children are the last group to be subjected to clinical trials as there is currently not enough safety data available

However, some preliminary data is available which suggests that Covid-19 vaccines may be safe and effective in children. We need to wait for more information and recommendations regarding this.

Q: Why is the Covid vaccine being given to people over the age of 60? Wouldn’t it be too strong for their immune system?

Ans: The age group most at risk for severe disease is 60 and above. Therefore, this is the priority group that must get vaccinated.

Q: I got the Sputnik/Pfizer dose. Should I also go for the Chinese vaccines for added protection?

Ans: If a complete course of one vaccine has been administered, then there is no need to go to another type of vaccine.

Q: How long after recovering from the virus should one get vaccinated?

Ans: Soon after complete recovery from infection.

Q: Why is AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine allowed in Pakistan?

 AstraZeneca vaccine also known as the Oxford vaccine has an efficacy of 63% against coronavirus infections.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is a 2-dose vaccine. The decision is based on available data, compiled and vetted by experts. The guiding principle to halt the pandemic is to weigh risk (adverse effects) versus benefit (preventing death and disability). AstraZeneca vaccine is authorized in the EU and many countries of the world to prevent Covid-19. The benefits of this vaccine far outweigh its risks in adults of all age groups.

Because of limited vaccine supplies worldwide, Pakistan is offering the Astrazeneca vaccine to all adults over 40 years of age. This decision is based on WHO’s a recommendation of considering local epidemiology (including incidence and mortality from Covid-19 disease), age groups targeted for vaccination, data on vaccine adverse effects, and the availability of alternative vaccines.

 instructions for use of this vaccine will continue to be updated as new information becomes available. Overall, the currently available Covid-19 vaccines in Pakistan are very safe and effective at preventing infection. All adult citizens must get their first available shot as soon as possible given the ongoing third wave of the virus in Pakistan and the real risk of spread of infection from neighboring countries.

Q: what is the way to register for the vaccine?

Ans: Citizens between 30-39 years of age can register by texting their CNIC number to 1166 or by visiting the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) website. Then citizens will receive the vaccination center, PIN code, and date via SMS.

And the same procedure for citizens above 40 years of age. After visiting the NIMS website or send your CNIC number, a four-digit PIN code will be messaged to you within 24 hours. Once you receive the code, you can visit your nearest vaccination center.

For registered healthcare workers, the center and date will be communicated via SMS. They should visit covid.gov.pk/vaccine to register.

Q: How much do I need to pay for the vaccine?

Ans: The government of Pakistan is providing the CanSino, Sinopharm, SinoVac, and AstraZeneca vaccines free of cost.

Can I change my vaccine center?

If you want to change your vaccine center it is best to visit the center that you have been assigned.

If you want to change it, you are likely to get bumped down the list and may have to wait a few days before another appointment can be scheduled.

Q: Anything specific I should keep in mind when I go to the vaccination center?

 Here is a list of things you should keep in mind:

  • Register yourself by sending an SMS to 1166 or via the NIMS website.
  • Do not forget your four-digit confirmation code message. Do save the message on your phone and write it down on a piece of paper.
  • Do take your original CNIC to the vaccination center.
  • Do not bring children, especially infants, to the vaccination center.
  • Make sure to wear a loose shirt or one with short sleeves. Please make sure your clothes are clean and ensure good hygiene.
  • Wear a face mask and make sure you carry hand sanitizer and a water bottle.
  • Patiently wait for your turn.
  • Do greet the staff at the vaccination center and be polite.
  • When it is your turn, expose the injection site (non-dominant upper arm). Please do not expect the staff to assist you in lifting your shirt/sleeve. They have to keep their hands clean and avoid contamination. Wear proper clothing. Wear a loose-sleeved shirt or a T-shirt.
  • You will be asked to wait at the center as you might experience some side effects. Please cooperate with the staff as they monitor you for adverse effects.
  • A day after the vaccination, you will receive an auto-generated message to inquire about any side effects 24 to 48 hours post-vaccination. You can reply up to seven days later, in which case you will be directed to a health facility.
  • The NIMS online portal will be open to citizens for registering complaints, adverse effects post-vaccine.
  • If you have been administered the first shot of a two-dose vaccine, you will receive a message for the second as per availability of inventory 24-48 hours before the due date.

The vaccines- a brief snapshot.

There is brief information about the five vaccines approved by the Ministry of Health in Pakistan:

Sinopharm:

China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation (CNPGC) commonly referred to as Sinopharm is the vaccine manufacturer. The Sinopharm vaccine has been developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products (BBIBP), a subsidiary of China National Biotech Group (CNBG).

Sinopharm announced that the vaccine has an efficacy of 79.34 per cent.

Phase-III clinical trials of Sinopharm’s vaccine were held in Pakistan, Argentina, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Peru, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in which more than 60,000 volunteers participated, they get the result that Sinopharm’s vaccine is 79% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection.

On May 7, 2021, the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for emergency use, then this vaccine was rolled out globally. “

CNPGC is expected to manufacture 1 billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in 2021.

CanSinoBIO:

AD5-nCOV is known as the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Tianjin-based Chinese pharmaceutical company, CanSino Biologics, is a single dose viral vector Covid vaccine. After trial, the result shared in Feb 2021, showed that the vaccine had a 65.7pc efficacy in preventing moderate symptoms of Covid-19, and 91pc efficacy in preventing severe disease. Phase-III clinical trials of AD5-nCOV were held in Pakistan, Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, and Saudi Arabia in which more than 40,000 volunteers participated.

Sinovac:

CoronaVac is an inactivated virus COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company, Sinovac Biotech.

They conducted Phase III clinical trials in Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Turkey. Many countries in Asia, South America, North America, and Europe have already approved CoronaVac.

Sinovac has delivered 200 million doses of CoronaVac while 100 million doses of CoronaVac have been administered globally.

CoronaVac is being separately manufactured in China, Brazil, Indonesia, Egypt, and Malaysia.

Sputnik V:

Developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Sputnik V is an adenovirus viral vector vaccine for Covid-19.

In December 2020, countries including Russia, Argentina, Belarus, Hungary, Serbia, and the UAE allowed emergency use of the vaccine.

Clinical trials showed that Sputnik V is 91.6% effective at preventing COVID-19 disease while no unusual side effects of the vaccine were reported.

Pakistan had imported 50,000 doses of Sputnik V last month through the private sector while DRAP had fixed the price of the two-dose Sputnik V vaccine at Rs. 8,449.

AstraZeneca:

AstraZeneca (AZD1222) is the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Oxford University and a UK-based pharmaceutical firm, AstraZeneca.

In Phase-III clinical trials, more than 30,000 volunteers participate from UK, US, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, and India. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is 79% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection and 100% effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization. AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine showed that it is effective 62pc in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 disease beginning two weeks after the second dose. However, more than a dozen countries (mostly in Europe) have suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s Coronavirus vaccine as a precautionary measure after many people suffered rare blood clots and brain hemorrhages after receiving the vaccine.

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