Tips before you get the COVID-19 vaccination

The coronavirus vaccine programme has started countrywide. The initial trepidation has subsided and now most people are eager to get vaccinated. More and more front line fighters and elderly persons are turning up at the vaccine centres.

So far there has been no news of any serious mishap or side effects. Some people do face mild side effects, which is only natural. No one has had to get admitted to hospital.

If you are planning on getting vaccinated, it would be better to know about the possible side effects and also to be prepared in advance. We can take a glance at what the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies have to say about this.

Normal side effects

According to CDC, the side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being used at present, can be mild pain and swelling where the injection is given, headache, tiredness, shivering and fever. Some other side effects recorded by scientists are rare. These include muscle and joint pain, rash at the place of the injection and swelling of lymph glands (such as underarms).

The scientists say that such mild side effects can occur in the case of any vaccine. These can last for a few hours to a few days. Two other observations are that such side effects are more apparent in the younger people than the elderly. This is because our immune response weakens with age and younger people’s immune system reacts more to the vaccine. The side effects just indicate that the immune system is functioning.

Preparing for the vaccination

· Once you register for the vaccination, prepare yourself mentally. It is better not to plan any trip or visit or intensive programme for the next few days. Make sure you will be able to take adequate rest.

· Those with diabetes can check if their sugar is in control. If it is not, you may consult with a physician.

· Inform those concerned if you have had serious reaction to any drug or injection in the past. Make sure you record your accurate medical history in the registration form.

· You may take paracetamol or over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen if needed. However, you should not take paracetamol of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs before getting vaccinated. This may have an impact on the effectiveness of the vaccine. Only take painkillers after the vaccination if required.

· Take adequate rest on the day of the vaccine or the day after if you feel fatigued. Take a day off work if necessary. Lie down, but also get up and a walk around a bit. Drink plenty of water.

· Some people may develop a rash at the place of the injection 5 to 10 days after the vaccination. This is a delayed allergic reaction. You may take antihistamine in such a case.

· Wait for 30 minutes at the vaccine centre after being vaccinated. Do not rush around unnecessarily. Do not take any mental pressure either. Drink water during this time.

· If you feel bad or develop any problem, inform the physician or nurse on duty. All vaccine centres have first aid facilities. There are very rare instances of strong allergic reaction of anaphylaxis, that too in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is being given in Bangladesh. The vaccine centres are prepared to take measures in the case of anaphylaxis.

· If any side effects develop upon returning home after taking the vaccine, call 16263 for advice.

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