COVID19 vaccination in India - What is the process

हिन्दी में

You want to get the COVID-19 vaccination shot. But do you know how to get it, where to get it, how to register for it, what documents you need and what are the prerequisites? Not to worry, we provide you all the details here in this article.

India’s COVID-19 vaccination program, which commenced on January 16, is now in the third phase of what is going to be the largest vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus in the world.

Vaccination drive and its phases

The vaccine roll out is being done in a phased manner owing to the large scale of our population, and the diverse demographics. Making the vaccine available for everyone at once could have overstressed the healthcare infrastructure, risking the entire drive to collapse. Given the progress with vaccination drive, it is likely that vaccination will soon be open to everyone (all age groups).

In the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive in India, healthcare and frontline workers such as military, paramilitary and police personnel were vaccinated. As per the data released by the health ministry, more than 8 million beneficiaries received the first shot of the vaccine within a month of the program being rolled out.

In the second phase that commenced on March 1, the vaccination is now being administered to people over 60 years of age and those over 45 with comorbidities (underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders that can increase the risk of COVID-19 complications and mortality).

From April 1, the vaccination drive entered its third phase where everyone over 45, irrespective of their health status, is eligible to get vaccinated.

The vaccination is likely to open for other age groups soon.

How to sign up for the vaccine?

An eligible person can self-register for the vaccine through the link or the Aarogya Setu app. To register, you have to enter your mobile number and verify it via an OTP. The same number can be used to register up to four people, including oneself.

After this, you have to enter four key details – photo ID you intend to carry for the vaccination, photo ID number (for example, if you’re using your Aadhaar card as ID, then you have to enter your Aadhaar number), gender, age, and any comorbidities (serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart issues, for which you need to carry a certificate from a licensed medical practitioner, in case you’re under 60).

Upon furnishing these details, you will be asked to register, following which, you will receive a confirmation message. At this stage, you can register three more beneficiaries using the same number, by completing the same process for each.

Once registered, you can click on ‘Schedule Appointment’. To choose a vaccination centre near you, you need to select your state, district, pin code and block from a drop-down menu. As soon as the vaccination centre is identified, you can choose a date and a vaccination slot between 9 am and 3 pm, depending on availability.

Upon clicking ‘Book’, you will be redirected to the ‘Appointment Confirmation’ page. Here, you have to confirm all the details once again to book your appointment. The domicile of a beneficiary has no bearing on where they get vaccinated. A person from Himachal Pradesh, for instance, can get vaccinated in Kerala, and vice-versa.

All the details regarding the vaccination appointment are open to editing till the shot is administered. It’s only after you receive the first dose that the details are locked and entered into the database.

The option of on-site registration is also available to those beneficiaries who don’t have access to the internet or haven’t been able to register via the cowin link. For this, you can simply walk into the nearest vaccination centre, and the entire process from registration to vaccination will be completed on the same day.

What is the vaccination process?

India is currently using two vaccines – Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and Covaxin, the indigenous vaccine developed and manufactured by Bharat Biotech. Both vaccines require two doses to be administered at least 28 days apart.

However, it is not mandatory to have the second dose on Day 29 itself. You can get the second dose of the vaccine anywhere between Day 29 and 42. However, it is recommended that the second dose be received at the same centre as the first, to ensure that the same vaccine type is administered.

Can you choose which vaccine to take?

By and large, the beneficiaries cannot choose between the two vaccines. However, as per recent reports, some states may offer that option. For instance, Tamil Nadu is now allowing people to choose between the Covishield and Covaxin. On the other hand, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has maintained that such an option will not be made available to the beneficiaries.

Do we need to follow COVID-19 protocols after the vaccination?

Yes, it is recommended that you continue to follow all COVID norms such as wearing masks in public and remaining physically distanced from others even after getting vaccinated. The reason for this is two-fold. One, no vaccine guarantees 100% protection from COVID. So, you still have a 10-20% risk of getting infected. Second, while you may have immunity against the virus, you can still be a carrier and infect others who are not protected.

The vaccines and scientific understanding of how these will help combat the pandemic are still in their nascent stages. Until more is understood, the new normal of masked, socially distanced way of life is here to stay.

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