There has never been a time where the general public has gotten to know so much about vaccines. It has been hard to keep up with all the information about the COVID-19 vaccine and it has become challenging to know what’s true and what’s not.

Here are a few things to help you access the right information about the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine:

How do I know if I am allergic to the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you have had a severe allergic reaction to any of the components of the vaccine then you should not have the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Components of Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine are:

One dose (0.5 ml) contains:

COVID-19 Vaccine (ChAdOx1-S* recombinant) 5 × 1010 viral particles

* Recombinant, replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus vector encoding the SARS-CoV-2 Spike glycoprotein. Produced in genetically modified human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells. This product contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The other excipients are L-histidine, L-histidine hydrochloride monohydrate, magnesium chloride hexahydrate, polysorbate 80, ethanol, sucrose, sodium chloride, disodium edetate dihydrate, and water for injections.

If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to another vaccine or injectable medication then consult with your doctor first. 

If you have an allergy to food, oral medications, or other triggers like dust, latex, etc, you can still get vaccinated. 

Anyone with a history of having had a severe allergic reaction should stay under observation for 30mins after taking the vaccine.

I have a chronic condition, is it safe to get the vaccine?

Those who have chronic medical conditions like diabetes or chronic kidney disease are more likely to suffer from severe COVID-19 and its complications, which makes it more important that you get vaccinated soon. Currently, there is no globally definitive treatment for this disease and vaccination is the only way to be able to curb this pandemic. Therefore, it is important that those with chronic conditions do get the vaccine. If you are unsure about your particular condition, then you can check this approved list by the UK National Health Service as well as discussing with your doctor. 

Do you have a weakened system due to cancer, HIV, or take immunosuppressive medications?

Specific data on those with a weakened immune system is not available yet however as these patients are at increased risk of severe COVID-19, they should not be excluded from getting the COVID-19 vaccine – rather, they should be prioritized. Patients should have a discussion with their doctor and be warned that they may have a reduced immune response to the vaccine and so these patients should be counseled to still wear a mask, physical distancing, and frequent handwashing even after getting the vaccine.

Why do I have to keep on social distancing and wearing masks after getting the vaccine?

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines help to decrease the severity of the disease. However, research is ongoing on whether the vaccines can prevent you from getting infected or transmitting the virus. Therefore, even after vaccination, you can still be a carrier of the virus and not display symptoms. Keeping this in mind, vaccinated persons can still transmit the virus to those who have not been vaccinated like children and pregnant women. 

If I have had COVID-19, do I still need to take the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. If you have previously had COVID-19, your body will have produced antibodies but these may only be present for 3 months. Therefore to prevent the chance of re-infection, it is recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

If I am sick on the day I am due to get my COVID-19 vaccination, can I still get it?

Being unwell is not a contra-indication to getting a COVID-19 vaccine, and it will not prevent the vaccine from working or increase the chance of side effects. However, it is best to wait until your symptoms have improved before you get vaccinated. If you are on antibiotics, you can still get the vaccination. 

How effective is the Astrazeneca vaccine against some of the new variants? 

According to CDC, we are still learning how effective the vaccines are against new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. Early data show the vaccines may work against some variants but could be less effective against others. We are learning more each day about the characteristics of new variants.

Importance of getting vaccinated
  • It’s everyone’s responsibility to do their part and get vaccinated to help to contain the virus
  • COVID-19 vaccines are perhaps the best hope for ending the pandemic 

Experts estimate that herd immunity would require around 80-90% of the population to have COVID-19 immunity, either through prior infection or vaccination. That’s why experts are encouraging the public to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Herd immunity means that enough people in a community are protected from getting a disease because they’ve already had the disease or because they’ve been vaccinated. Herd immunity makes it hard for the disease to spread from person to person. It even protects those who cannot be vaccinated, like newborns or people who are allergic to the vaccine.

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