COVID-19 Vaccine

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What You Need To Know About COVID-19 Vaccine

Getting vaccinated is one of the most crucial steps in protecting yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19. It is also to achieve herd immunity for the greater good. Learn more about COVID-19 types of vaccines, facts, safety, who is eligible, commonly asked questions and more.

At Gleneagles Hospitals, your health and safety are our priorities.

 

What is the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccine helps our bodies develop immunity against COVID-19 virus by stimulating our immune system to fight SARSCoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) whenever we are exposed to it. 

Various platforms such as RNA genetic sequencing, viral vectors, deactivating viruses and protein sub-units have been used to provide safe and effective coronavirus vaccines. It gives you the best protection against COVID-19. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is regulated and complies with the following Acts:

  • Poisons Act 1952 (Act 366) and its regulations
  • Sale of Drugs Act 1952 (Act 368) and its regulations
  • Drugs and Cosmetic Control Regulations 1984
  • Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Act (Act 342)

What are the types of COVID-19 vaccines?

At the moment, frontrunners in the coronavirus vaccine race include Moderna, Pfizer BioNTech, Sinovac Biotech and Oxford AstraZeneca.

The vaccines protect against symptomatic forms of COVID-19, but it is still unclear whether they will stop the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of COVID-19. Therefore, you should still continue to take appropriate precautions in protecting yourself and others around you even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Technology and the COVID-19 vaccine

Both the Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech’s vaccines use mRNA (messenger RNA) technology and it is interesting to note that the mRNA vaccines have never been approved for use in any disease. It has however received emergency use authorization from the FDA. 

mRNA vaccines work by injecting pieces of the virus’ genetic code into the body to stimulate an immune system reaction which enables the body to defend itself against the coronavirus.

The mRNA in the body breaks down fully within 48 hours. As it doesn’t enter the human nucleus, it does not affect human DNA. Both Moderna and Pfizer’s mRNA vaccines require 2 doses for adequate protection, and the doses are administered between 3 and 4 weeks apart.

Oxford AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech’s vaccines employ a modified delivery virus (that usually causes symptoms such as the common cold) to introduce SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins to the immune system, which then mounts a defence against it. The delivery virus is attenuated or modified so the person won’t develop the common cold when administered with this vaccine.

Click for Infographic to know What are the Types of Vaccines

 

Why is COVID-19 vaccination important?

The national COVID-19 immunisation programme by the Malaysian government is an important step to stop the pandemic. Benefits from the immunisation programme include;

  • Preventing someone from COVID-19 infection or becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19.
  • Curb the spread of COVID-19 to others.
  • To achieve herd immunity where a significant amount of the population is protected through vaccination against the virus, making it difficult for the disease to spread. 

 

FAQs

ELIGIBILITY, VACCINE DOSES

1. Who can take the COVID-19 vaccine?

All individuals 18 years of age and older.

However, some community groups need further consideration for the acceptance of this vaccination, namely:

  • Individuals with severe allergies
  • COVID-19 positive individuals
  • Individuals with immune system problems

Currently, most of the clinical trials conducted are for volunteers aged 18 and over. Some vaccine companies will conduct clinical trials on children. Therefore, the government will consider the use of the COVID-19 vaccine in children when there is scientific data that proves its effectiveness and safety to this group

For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, do consult with your doctor if you should be vaccinated.

2. Should I get vaccinated if have / had COVID-19?

Yes, according to CDC. This is because experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.

3. How many doses are required for COVID-19 vaccine?

Most vaccines require 2 doses. For vaccines that require two doses, each individual will get a vaccine of the same type.

4. How long should I wait to get second COVID-19 vaccine shot?

The duration of receiving the second dose will depend on the type of vaccine allocated. The interval between the first and second dose of COVID-19 vaccine types below are as follows;

  • Pfizer & Sputnik V vaccine - 21 days
  • AstraZeneca vaccine - 4 weeks to 12 weeks
  • Sinovac vaccine - 14 days
5. Is there a difference between the first and second vaccine doses?

Both doses are the same, however two shots are required to be fully effective.

6. Why are second doses of vaccines necessary?

The vaccinations goal is to develop a maximum number of antibodies in our system to protect us from someone who has COVID-19. The second dose gives us the most protection from becoming seriously ill and/or hospitalized due to COVID-19.

 

POST VACCINATION

1. What do we need to do after receiving the vaccine?
  • The vaccines protect against symptomatic forms of COVID-19, but it is still unclear whether they will stop the spread of COVID-19 virus. Therefore, you should still continue to take appropriate precautions in protecting yourself and others around you even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If you are experiencing pain or discomfort after getting vaccinated, speak with your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine to relief pain and discomfort.
2. Can someone still get COVID-19 after vaccination?

Though it’s unlikely, but some people may still spread and even develop COVID-19 after getting a vaccinated.

3. How long does immunity last after COVID-19 vaccination?

Currently it is unclear of how long the immunity will last as COVID-19 vaccines were only introduced in late 2019.

4. How long does it take to build immunity after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

According to CDC, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. This also means that it’s possible for a person to be infected with the virus just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

 

Safety & Side Effects

1. How is the vaccine evaluated and approved?

Like other pharmaceutical products, vaccines are constantly monitored in terms of quality, effectiveness and safety. Right now, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been given conditional approval based on strict compliance standards through the evaluation of scientific, clinical and technical data. The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) is the body responsible for evaluating the vaccines to be registered in Malaysia. The Drug Control Authority (DCA), on the other hand, approves the use of the vaccines based on the results of NPRA’s evaluation. Each group of vaccines that will be used in Malaysia will be monitored from the aspect of compliance, according to WHO standards. After the vaccine is administered in Malaysia, monitoring of Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) will be carried out by MOH.

2. Is the vaccine safe?

Yes, all COVID-19 vaccines approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Division (NPRA) for use in Malaysia are safe and effective.

NPRA is the body responsible for evaluating vaccines to be registered in Malaysia. So far, the COVID-19 vaccine for Malaysia has been given conditional approval based on strict compliance with the assessment of scientific, clinical and technical data. The Drug Control Authority (PBKD) will approve the use of the vaccine for Malaysia based on the results of the NPRA assessment.

3. Efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine and why is it different?

The efficacy of a vaccine, or how well the vaccine works, is seen through its ability to protect individuals from the symptoms of COVID-19 through vaccination. The efficacy level varies according to the way clinical studies are conducted, the type of vaccine, the risk of disease in volunteers and various other factors. Although the efficacy level varies, WHO has prescribed that the minimum level of efficacy for the COVID-19 vaccine is 50%.All vaccines approved by NPRA are safe and efficacious for use in Malaysia.

4. Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine

The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine that have been reported are mild and temporary. The most commonly reported side effects are:

  • pain/swelling/redness at the injection site
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • chills
  • joint pain
  • fever
  • nausea
  • feeling unwell
  • swelling of the lymph nodes
  • other side effects that may be reported from time to time
5. Will this vaccine provide 100% cure?

Not all vaccines can and will provide 100% cure to any diseases.

6. Will individuals who obtained the vaccine still be able to transmit the disease?

The vaccine will enhance the individual’s antibody. Hence they are less likely to contract or transmit the disease.

7. Is it safe for pregnant mothers to be vaccinated?

In Malaysia, pregnant mothers are not excluded from the vaccination program. They are advised to take the first dose of vaccine from week 14 -33 of pregnancy.

8. Should I get COVID-19 vaccine while I’m breastfeeding? Is it safe for me and my baby?

Currently there is no evidence to proof adverse effect of on breast feeding for new-born babies. However, this is subjected to the mutual decision between mother and O&G consultant.

References:

Ministry of Health Malaysia, Word Health Organisation (WHO), Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
For the latest information about COVID-19 Vaccines, please visit Ministry of Health Malaysia.
Last reviewed 1 March 2021

 

 

Infectious Disease