The Indian government has recommended increasing the gap between two doses of the Covishield vaccine from 4 to 6 weeks to 12-16 weeks. This recommendation has come in light of the acute shortage of vaccines being faced by the country.
The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) has held a meeting recently and brought forth certain revisions in the intervals between the two doses of the Covishield vaccine. From an earlier gap of 4-6 weeks, the panel has recommended stretching it to 12 to 16 weeks. The same panel has also recommended that COVID-19 recovered patients should defer from taking a jab for at least six months post-recovery. However, the protracted durations have caused certain qualms amongst the public, leading to confusion and fear.
What Are The Recommended Durations Now?
“The gap between the two doses of Covishield has been increased to 12-16 weeks NTAGI. However, these changes are only valid for Covishield and not for Covaxin”, explains Dr. Rahul Tyagi, a leading cardiologist in Agra.
People who recovered from corona should wait for 6 months before taking their first shot. Those who had taken their first shot and got tested positive before the second jab should wait 4-8 weeks before taking the second dose.
The NTAGI panel has also recommended giving pregnant women the liberty to choose from Covaxin and Covishield after enlightening them with the pros and cons of both.
“Those who have received convalescent plasma therapy should wait for three months after being discharged from the hospital”, recommends Dr. Tyagi.
The panel has also recommended lactating women not get vaccinated until they complete their lactation period.
Reason For Increasing The Gap
Whether it may be for the second dose, pregnant women, or people recovering from COVID, there are only two reasons for an increase in the gaps: one, shortage of vaccines, other, heightened immunity.
Dr.Devansh Sachan, a Pulmonologist at Indu Hospital in Lucknow explains, “Scientific data and researchers have found that stretching the gap between the first and second dose increases the efficacy rate of the vaccine leading to a much more intense immune response.” Also, due to the nationwide shortage of vaccines, increasing the gap between doses provides a breather to the government to arrange for the same.
Experts at Oxford Vaccine Group in a study have found out that the vaccine efficacy rate was only 55.1 percent when the two doses were given six weeks apart while it was 81.3 percent when the same was given 12 weeks apart.
Should You Worry If You Have Received Both Doses?
People who already have received it are now having questions about health concerns. Dr. Sachan explains, “Those who have received both shots are as safe as those receiving it within a 12 weeks gap. Don’t worry about your immunity or don’t try to take another dose (total 3 doses) after 12 weeks. You’re completely safe.”
Confusion Over CoWin Portal
People are facing trouble due to a mismatch between the dates reflected on the CoWin website/app and the vaccination centers. Recently, a number of people were refused vaccination by a hospital in Delhi as the dates shown by CoWin sites were in sync with the 4-6 weeks gap. As a result, the people were forced to come back after 12 weeks.
The recommendations have not been implemented i.e hospitals have not yet been officially asked to give the jab after 12 weeks. However, certain hospitals have started to follow the time limit on their own.