India has achieved over 100 crore vaccinations but still, only 38 per cent of the population has achieved full vaccination
The Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry to create awareness and understanding about the Booster dose to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on people’s health and welfare, organised a webinar on ‘Booster Dose for COVID-19’ under the ‘Illness to wellness’ campaign.
The webinar was addressed by, Anil Rajput, Chairman of ASSOCHAM; Dr Gautam Bhansali, Practicing physician and consultant, Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences; Dr P. Venkata Krishnan, Sr. Consultant, Internal Medicine Artemis Hospital and Dr Rajesh Kesari, Founder, and Director Total Care Control.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the nation, unlike any other epidemic, with different variants still mutating and transferring it becomes important for us to look for the mitigating strategies for the huge population of India, The webinar started with a cheerful note of being ‘Careful not Fearful’, and according to WHO most developed countries have administered two doses per person as well, but the requirement of booster dose is imperative due to the rising fear of the third wave.
Commenting on the growing concerns Rajput said, “The new variant ‘Omicron’ has more mutations and a higher rate of transmissibility therefore it is important to increase the pace of vaccination and a need for a booster dose. While we must be wary of not over vaccinating, optimally utilising surplus vaccines by administration it to people with comorbidities and front-line workers needs to considered.”
Highlighting the Importance of Vaccination, Dr Bhansali said, “Different variants are still coming out and countries like The US and UK are still recovering from the impact, booster doses are important as they reduce the severity of the impact and therefore even if the virus is contracted there would not be a need for hospitalization, 74 per cent of the people in Mumbai are fully vaccinated and people who are left out is only because of the gap between the two doses and there is the need to reduce the gap by the government, The vaccine administration would also depend on the individual immunity and efficacy of the previous vaccines.”
Commenting on the severity of the new variant Dr Krishnan said, “There is a need to administer the booster shot as the 1st dose introduces the body to the infection and then timely doses are required so that the body is able to identify the infection effectively and produce the desired antigens the effect of the dose then increases and the ill effects decrease it is like teaching a lesson to a kid, it is like a memory but for the infection, it is important as the virus has the potential to mutate, there is a requirement to administer the frontline workers as they are at the biggest risk.”
The panel also shed light in the timely administration of the vaccine, which is 6 months according to the FDA in the USA, as it was pointed out by the specialists that people may contract the 2nd infection even after being vaccinated as the number of antigens in the body decrease as the time gap between the doses increases, the FDA has also suggested that people above 18 years of age should get the booster after 6 months have gone by. The panel also discussed the vaccine hesitancy that was prevalent amongst the people, the panelists suggested a few withdrawal measures like restrictions to entry in public places like malls and public transport instead of punishments, for this Delhi government, has launched the “Har-Ghar Dastak” campaign for people who cannot reach the center such as the elderly and persons with disability. The panelists also discussed that children above 12 years of age be immediately vaccinated as it has a psychological bearing on their mental wellness.
Initiating the panel discussion Dr Kesari shared, a Shlok from the Charaka samhita that says that good health is a prerequisite to attaining Dharma and Moksha. Vaccines are now very easily available, and it is important as it creates antigens that act like soldiers in our body. With new cases spreading fast there is a need to vaccinate the frontline workers and people with comorbidities and vulnerable populations as they stand to lose out the most.
The panelists agreed to the rising concern with the new variant Omicron discovered in a lab in South Africa, there was an emphasis on following the foundational basics of SMSV i.e., social distancing, masks, sanitisation, and finally vaccination, as the COVID-19 is now like any other common flu and was here to stay.