Approaching the challenges of COVID-19 vaccination

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Juwairiah Abdur Raheem, a 3rd year medical student from India. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

A vast majority of people are still vulnerable to the coronavirus and it’s only the current restrictions that’s keeping people safe. A vaccine will prepare the body to effectively fight off the virus which could be encountered later in life. Three things needed for successful implementation of a vaccine program are:

  • Effective vaccine supplies
  • Staff to implement it
  • People to be vaccinated

For a vaccine to show its effect in full swing, it should be accessible to all individuals and available at a reasonable price. The entire process needs to be transparent to gain the confidence of people and also to avoid any corruption in its manufacturing and transport.

Storage, Transport and Distribution

COVID-19 vaccines need cold storage requirements to maintain its potency. Most of the developing countries do not have Cold Chain Equipment that can maintain optimum temperature required for Pfizer-BioNTech. But other COVID-19 vaccines like those produced by Moderna, Sputnik and AstraZeneca-Oxford can be stored at regular refrigerated temperatures. Before shipping it to health care workers, the cold chain plan needs to be assessed and made feasible. It should be transported in vehicles that can maintain optimum temperature with reduced vibrations and shock as these can also decrease vaccine potency. A delay in distributing vaccines will only add to citizen and community suffering. COVAX facility will ensure equitable access and distribution of vaccines. To achieve complete protection, people should be encouraged to take complete doses at instructed time intervals.

Needless to say, the next most important challenge is to convince people about the need to be vaccinated and its positive impact on health.

Busting myths regarding COVID-19 Vaccines

  1. The assumption that COVID-19 vaccines were developed in a short period of time is wrong. The clinical trials which are done to examine the safety and efficacy of the vaccine weren’t rushed at all.
  2. The COVID-19 vaccine just like other vaccines might cause mild symptoms. There is no noted evidence of any irreversible side effect. The small risk of side effects from the vaccine do not outweigh the risk of morbidity and mortality due to the virus itself.
  3. People are hesitant to take the vaccine due to the circulating rumors about the occurrence of abortive fetal cells in them. Special fetal cells for the preparation of vaccines were used long back in the past and are not present in the current vaccines.
  4. You need to be vaccinated, even if you were previously infected with coronavirus, as preliminary evidence suggests that the vaccine provides better protection than infection with the virus itself.

You need to be vaccinated first, to be able to help others. People need to gain knowledge through authentic sources and make decisions based on factual information and not myths. A doctor needs to do his duty by rightfully guiding and clearing the misconceptions regarding the vaccine. A person after being vaccinated, still needs to follow the general preventive measures of social distancing, wearing face mask, hand washing and avoiding crowded places.

About the author

Juwairiah Abdur Raheem is a 3rd year medical student who aims to heal people through her work and words. She is an active member of Medical Students Association of India (MSAI) and has written several articles on COVID-19. She also raises awareness on health topics and educates others through her social media accounts and wishes to bring a positive attitude in people’s perspective.

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