The COVID-19 Vaccines – Which Covid Vaccine Is Best?
The COVID-19 Vaccines – What You Need To Know.
What is COVID-19?
To understand which covid vaccine is safe for you, let’s get a quick overview of the virus. COVID-19 is the scientific name of respiratory disease caused by a new type of coronavirus. ‘CO’ in COVID-19 means corona, ‘VI’ means virus and ‘D’ stands for disease. Meanwhile, 19 denotes the year in which its first case was reported. The COVID-19 virus is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.
The virus affects your upper respiratory tract as well as lower respiratory tracts. The parts of the respiratory system affected are the nose, sinuses, throat, windpipe and lungs. It spreads mainly by an infecting person spreading out droplets containing coronavirus and another person near to them inhaling it or the droplets simply landing on the eyes, nose or mouth of the nearby persons. Its main signs and symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, body aches, loss of smell and taste.
When did COVID-19 start?
Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, China, reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province on 31 December 2019.
Why is COVID-19 so dangerous?
COVID-19 affects one of the main systems of your body: It damages the respiratory system (lungs). By damaging the respiratory system, it causes shortness of breath. This shortness of breath can exacerbate if a person is already suffering from any other medical disease. Older people are particularly susceptible to developing a severe form of COVID-19. Shortness of breath makes it difficult to breathe. Consequently, artificial respiration becomes necessary in such conditions. Ultimately, this infectious disease can put a person on a ventilator and lead to death from the severe lung infection.
Is the COVID vaccine a live vaccine?
Vaccines against coronavirus disease offer the best chance to end this pandemic. Various kinds of vaccines have been manufactured around the globe. Australia is rolling out the following vaccines:
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
It does not contain any live virus and it cannot give you COVID-19. It creates the genetic code for the spike protein of the virus. Your body makes copies of the protein and learns to recognize how to respond and fight off the a real COVID-19 infection. Protection starts about three weeks after the first dose. A second dose is given 21 days later. People aged 16 years and older can receive this vaccine. The Australian Technical Advisory Group (ATAGI) on Immunization recommends that the Pfizer vaccine is preferred in adults under 50 years.
It does not contain any live virus and it cannot give you COVID-19. The vaccine uses a harmless adenovirus to bring the spike protein into your cells and allow your body to make copies of the spike protein. The immune system learns to fight a real virus by recognizing this spike protein. This vaccine can be used in people 18 years and above. In people 50 years and over, ATAGI continue to advise that the benefit of vaccination with AstraZeneca COVID vaccine outweighs the risks associated with vaccination. The AstraZeneca vaccine can be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits outweigh the risk for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits. Two doses of AstraZeneca are taken, with a 4-12 weeks gap in between them.
What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?
Patients may experience transient and relatively mild side effects that are often associated with any immunization. These side effects are very limited compared to the potentially devastating effects that COVID-19 can cause. These side effects include:
- Pain at the injection site
- Muscle pain
Severe side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines are possible but rare.
Will I get a blood clot?
There is less than 1% that you will get a clot – a very rare side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Clots may occur in 4-6 people in every million people vaccinated.
You have a greater chance of thrombosis (blood clots) with COVID-19 infection than with the vaccine.
Therefore, the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risk of thrombosis. However, to minimise this risk, Pfizer is the preferred COVID-19 vaccine for adults under 50 years of age, and for people with a past history of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (a type of brain clot) or heparin induced thrombocytopenia (a rare reaction to heparin treatment), idiopathic splanchnic vein thrombosis (blood clots in the abdominal veins) or antiphospholipid syndrome with thrombosis.
COVID-19 Vaccine eligibility in Australia (as of June 2021)
Previously following people were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination in Australia:
- Anyone aged 50 or older
- Healthcare professionals
- Quarantine and border workers
- Staff and residents of aged care and disability centres
- People aged 16 years and over with an underlying medical disease or significant disability
- High-risk workers aged 16 or more than that include police, emergency services, and the meat industry
Now, the eligibility has been extended further as follows:
- All adults between the age of 40-49
- All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons aged 16 to 49
- Participant of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
- with an age of 16 years or and carers of NDIS of any age
- Temporary visa holders under 50 years of age who fulfil the criteria for an inwards travel exemption, or who possess a strong compassionate or compelling reason to leave Australia
Use the Covid Vaccine Eligibility Checker to find out when and where you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
If you are thinking about whether you should get the vaccine or not, the likelihood is that the benefits of the vaccines greatly outweigh the risks. The right vaccine choice is dependent on your age and background medical risks. We strongly advise you to discuss vaccination options with your GP. Vaccination is voluntary and free.
Dr Ganesh Naidoo BSc(biomed), MBBS, FRACGP is an Australian General Practitioner. He has significant clinical experience in multiple regions of Australia and has a passion for health transformation to improve clinical outcomes for all patients.
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