Last updated 28 April 2021
Amidst the second wave of COVID-19 infection, India continues to hold the top spot on the world coronavirus map with millions of confirmed coronavirus positive cases. With the worldwide news on the progress of vaccination drive and production of COVID vaccines—some reported over 90% efficacy rate—it is only understandable that people are hopeful that vaccination drive will help improve the current situation in India.
What is the current picture of the vaccination program in India? Which vaccines are available? Who is eligible for them? Where are they being administered? Everything you need to know is right here.
Which vaccines have been approved?
India approved the Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield vaccine in the first week of January 2021. The two-dose vaccine has been developed by SII in collaboration with Oxford University in the UK and AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company.
The Covishield is based on the viral vector platform. In simple terms, it is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus, called adenovirus, from chimpanzees and has been modified to look more like coronavirus.
The Indian government has recommended an interval of 8 weeks between the first and second doses of the vaccine.
The peer-reviewed results of the Phase-III trials of the Covishield show that it is up to 90% effective. The results also revealed that the vaccine was only 62% effective when participants were given two full doses, but its efficacy rose to 90% when a half dose followed by a full dose was administered. It is effective against the UK strain and is being tested against the Brazilian variant too.
Covishield does have a few side effects, such as pain, redness, itching, swelling or bruising, feeling unwell, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, nausea, joint pain, and muscle ache, but they are mostly mild to moderate in nature and can be treated with over-the-counter pills.
It is also known to have triggered allergic reactions.
Along with Covishield, the DCGI gave the green signal to Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin in early January.
Covaxin is an inactivated vaccine. It contains the dead virus, which prompts an immune response but doesn’t infect or make the person sick.
It consists of two doses, given 28 days apart.
Bharat Biotech and Ocugen jointly announced that Covaxin demonstrated efficacy of 80.6% in the Phase 3 trials. The vaccine can induce antibodies that can neutralize even the UK and Brazilian strains.
Covaxin induces side effects including site pain, injection site swelling, injection site redness, injection site itching, stiffness in the upper arm, weakness in the injection arm, body ache, headache, fever, malaise, weakness, rashes, nausea, vomiting.
Developed by the Russian medical research institute, Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Sputnik V is the latest vaccine to be authorized for emergency use in India.
Sputnik contains a vector is an engineered virus without the ability to replicate or multiply. When the vector containing the coronavirus gene is injected into the human body, it triggers a surge of coronavirus spike proteins without actually infecting the body. The body’s immune system then gears into high alert, making it capable of developing an immunity to the virus.
It follows a two-dose regimen over a gap of 28 days.
Manufacturers of the Sputnik V vaccine has released a statement detailing an impressive 95 percent efficacy rate observed in volunteers 42 days after the first dose, that is 21 days after the second dose.
No unexpected adverse events were identified as part of the research. Some of those vaccinated had short-term minor adverse events such as pain at the injection point and flu-like symptoms including fever, weakness, fatigue, and headache.
Can I get the vaccine now?
Yes, if you’re older than 45 years old or are part of the healthcare and frontline workers priority group. Other adults aged 18 and up will be eligible for the jabs come 1 May.
It is to be noted that the air is still unclear regarding vaccine administration in pregnant women since none of them have yet been tested in clinical trials for them. Individuals with severe allergic reactions need to undergo risk assessment and may not take the second dose if the first one yielded strong reactions.
Vaccine registration in India
Appointments for vaccination can be booked through the CoWIN website or the Aarogya Setu app.
Keep in mind that every user of either platform can register at the most 4 beneficiaries.
- Open the CoWIN online portal.
- Click on the ‘Register/Sign In Yourself’ yellow button. Those who are using it for the first time will need to register themselves with their photo ID proof (Aadhar Card/ Driving License/ PAN Card/ Passport/ Pension Passbook), photo ID number, name, and birth year. Those who have registered can sign in with an OTP.
- Click on ‘Schedule Appointment’.
- Choose the state, district, block, and pin code from a dropdown and select your vaccination centre and time slot.
- ‘Confirm’ your appointment.
- Download the app on Google Play or iOS App Store.
- On the app’s homepage, click on the ‘CoWIN’ tab on the top right.
- Select the ‘Register Now’ option and verify your mobile number with an OTP.
- Fill in details such as name, age, gender, year of birth, etc, and upload a photo ID proof.
- Search for your convenient vaccination centre by entering the pincode, and choose the date and time of your appointment.
Upon successful registration, you will receive an SMS with the appointment details.
Once you complete your dose regimen, you’ll receive your vaccination certificate on the above two portals.
I can’t register online. What should I do?
Those who cannot get themselves registered online can contact their local government health workers, who will help the beneficiaries to the government CVC for on-the-spot registration, appointment, verification and vaccination on the same day.
Please ask your nearest government health care worker to guide you about the nearest government CVC where COVID vaccination will be available and the days of the week when this will be available.
You need to carry your mobile phone and a photo identification document to get yourself vaccinated. The workers in the government CVC will help you to register on the spot, get an appointment and get vaccinated on the same day.
How much does the vaccine cost?
Some states in India have made the vaccine available for free across all age groups, while others provide free vaccine drives for those above 45. Generally speaking, the vaccines are available at government vaccination centres free of charge while private centres charge INR 250 for a single dose of either vaccine.
From 1 May, the following states will provide free COVID-19 vaccine:
- Uttar Pradesh
- Madhya Pradesh
- Tamil Nadu
- Andhra Pradesh
- Jammu and Kashmir
- Himachal Pradesh
How long will the vaccination protect me?
The longevity of the immune response in vaccinated individuals is yet to be determined. Hence, continuing the use of masks, handwashing, physical distancing and other COVID-19 appropriate behaviors is strongly recommended.
Will the vaccine work against newer strains of the virus?
The body responds to vaccination by making more than one type of antibodies to virus parts including spike protein. Therefore, all vaccines are expected to provide a reasonable amount of protection against the mutated virus also. Based on the available data the mutations as reported are unlikely to make the vaccine ineffective.
Where can I get vaccinated?
The local governments in India have set up numerous vaccine centres across the country.
You can schedule your vaccination appointment with them through the Aarogya Setu app or the CoWIN website. While some centres may allow walk-ins, it is advisable to first make an appointment.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike has set up over a hundred vaccination centres across the city in the form of private facilities as well as government hospitals.
Check the complete list of vaccination centres in Bangalore here.
Residents of Chennai can take the vaccine shots at either an Urban Primary Health Centre, an Urban Community Health Centre, a Private Hospital or a Government Hospital – ESI, as per their convenience.
Check the complete list of vaccination centres in Chennai here.
COVID vaccine has been made available to Delhiites at several government and private vaccination centres set up in the National Capital Region.
With nearly 120 vaccination centres facilitated across the city, hundreds of citizens are getting inoculated against the virus every passing day.
Check the complete list of vaccination centres in Hyderabad here.
The West Bengal Health Ministry has released a comprehensive list of vaccination centres in the state and its capital city, Kolkata.
Check the complete list of vaccination centres in Kolkata here (pages 24-26).
Mumbaikars can choose from over 120 state, MCGM, and private vaccination centres, scattered across the different wards of the city, to take their jabs and protect themselves from the virus.
Check the complete list of vaccination centres in Mumbai here.
The Municipal Corporation of Pune, the most affected city in India, is fighting the rise in cases with a plethora of vaccination centres arranged across the city.
Check the complete list of government and private vaccination centres in Pune here.