India is in the midst of the third Covid wave even as we celebrate the Makara Sankranti festival. While at times, it brings despair, we have to look at the positive side of things to move forward. It is now an accepted fact that Covid is here to stay. We need to learn to live with it by taking precautions, adopting certain lifestyle changes, and making the best out of what we can. There is no need to stop life or enjoyment because of Covid. It’s just that we need to be aware and ensure maximum prevention.
The good news is that, despite the surge, hospitalization and mortality rates have come down across India. This is because the virus has mutated, perhaps to a milder form, and also, the vaccinations are helping. Across the world, booster doses are also being given to ensure that people stay safe. India too launched the vaccination for the 15-18 years age group and the booster dose for the healthcare workers and senior citizens with comorbidities. But, perhaps, some may still be wondering about the how, why, when, and where of the booster doses. Read on to find out answers to your queries.
What is a booster dose?
As the name suggests, this is the third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, which boosts immunity against infection. A booster is suggested because the immunity from the previous doses starts waning after six months or so. Therefore, bringing it back up becomes important for people with comorbidities and health workers dealing with it every day. This helps keep them protected.
As of now, India has only approved three vaccines, Covishield, and Covaxin for booster doses. Clarity on the Sputnik booster dose is awaited yet, and also, this vaccine came in a little late into the picture and may not be due yet. Also, currently, the government of India has not approved the mixing of vaccines. Therefore, it is important to check this before making the appointment for your booster dose. It means that if you have earlier taken a Covishield shot, the booster too has to be the same, and so also for Covaxin.
Are you eligible?
You are eligible if you are a health worker or are above 60 years old with some comorbidities. The comorbidities being considered for booster now are hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Your doctor may be able to suggest you if your health issues are chronic and may be eligible for a booster. Though, not mandatory, it is always good to discuss with your doctor about taking the dose. However, there is one important thing to be kept in mind. There should be a nine-month gap between your second dose and the booster dose. So, check the date of your second vaccination and accordingly schedule the booster dose.
Note: The COWIN app sends you an SMS when your third dose is due.
How to get it?
Getting a booster dose is as easy as walking into any government vaccination centre or a private hospital providing the same. You may also follow the COWIN registration and appointment booking option. It has a precaution dose tab to complete the process. This process can be followed using the Arogya Setu app too, which connects to COWIN. If you are eligible, it will show you the options of vaccination slot availability for making the appointment. So you could book one at your convenience. Just make sure that it is the same vaccine as earlier to avoid a last-minute mix-up and wasted trip amid a pandemic wave.
Note: While the vaccine is free in government centres, the government has also urged all those who can pay to avail the facility from private hospitals.
Why is a booster important?
Studies in the UK have shown that a booster third dose provides as much as 90% protection to senior citizens against hospitalization, even three months after the booster is taken. Therefore, if we have to learn to live with the virus, a booster may be one of the best prevention methods to adopt. Please note that it is called the ‘precaution dose’ in India.
So, perhaps it’s time to plan and get your precaution dose and try to go about your life as normal as possible. Get it, and say Hello Zindagi, but don’t drop your guard.