Breastfeeding mothers should get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19 without any hesitation says Dr. Samiran Panda, ICMR

GG News Bureau
New Delhi, 9th July. Dr. Samiran Panda the Head, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, Indian Council for Medical Research(ICMR) in a statement released on Friday said that the Breastfeeding mothers should get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19 without any hesitation.
“The anti-bodies that are developed in the mother as a result of the vaccination get passively transferred to the baby while breastfeeding and could be helpful to the child”, said Samiran Panda.
He also apprised the nation that the vaccines available now are largely effective against the new variants of COVID19. Apeaking about the apprehension over whether the vaccines will be effective against the newer strains of SARS-CoV-2, virus he said that the vaccines available now largely are effective against the new variants. He further explained that vaccines are not infection preventing, but disease-modifying. Experiments at ICMR have proved that the vaccines presently available in India are effective against the new variants as well. However, the efficacy may differ for different strains.

He also cleared the air on the issue the vaccines that they are receiving now not being effective after a while, as the virus is mutating rapidly. However, Dr. Panda pointed out that mutation is normal for all viruses when they proliferate. Experts have suggested that the COVID-19 virus will reach its endemic stage like Influenza after a while and then vulnerable population may have to take the vaccine shot annually. Dr. Panda said that the Influenza commonly known as flu was a pandemic 100 years ago but today it is endemic. Similarly, in case of COVID-19, we expect that it will gradually become endemic from its current state of being a pandemic. Currently, we recommend the elderly to take annual flu shots. As the influenza virus keeps on mutating, we simultaneously make minor changes in the vaccine. So, there is no need to panic, said panda.

Dr. Samiran Panda further says that it is futile to go for anti-body tests as the immunity does not depend only on anti-bodies. He adds, the anti-bodies that are seen using the commercial kits available in the market are not necessarily the anti-bodies that can protect from COVID disease. Dr. Panda explains that whenever a person gets vaccinated, two types of immunity emerge. One is known as neutralizing anti-body or anti-body mediated immunity. Second one is cell mediated immunity. Third one and the most important one is immune memory. An immune memory is generated after vaccination and is present in cells and whenever the virus enters the body, this gets activated.

Dr. Samiran Panda clarified that people with normal allergies like asthma, dust allergy, allergy of pollen grains etc. can take the vaccine. Patients with co-morbidities can take the vaccine if they are stable. It is advisable for people suffering from diabetes and other immuno-suppressed conditions to get vaccinated because they are at a higher risk. “All the vaccines that are currently available in India have gone through three phases of clinical trials. Safety is tested in the first phase itself. Immunity and efficacy are tested in the later phases. So, I assure everyone that the vaccines are absolutely safe.” Dr. Panda added that blood clotting events or AEFI (Adverse Event Following Immunization) following COVID vaccination are miniscule in India.

He suggested that the best option is to take the vaccine available in the country now, rather than waiting for other vaccines that are available globally and may come to India after some time.
“Please understand that while people may be waiting for other vaccines which they may consider more convenient or superior, the virus is not waiting. The virus is still spreading in the country. What if you get infected, while you wait? Questioned Dr Panda. He stressed on the preventive measures to control the spread of virus.

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