Should we get the vaccine?
We have come a long way since winter 2020, when the new virus later called COVID-19 upended every aspect of our lives. There is still no medicine against it, however, there are about a dozen of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. Instead of being happy with this fact, many people express vaccine hesitancy being one of the biggest threat to global health as stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Should we get the vaccine or is it better to face a virus on your own? To support you as you make your decision here are details shared by Songül Özer, M.D., Infectious Diseases Specialist at NPİSTANBUL Brain Hospital, affiliated with Uskudar University.
Doctor Songül Özer said, “Side effects after COVID-19 vaccination are often a question of concern for numerous patients. There are no serious side effects related to the vaccines being reported in Turkey since the beginning of vaccination campaign.” She continues, “Everyday hundreds of people are being vaccinated only in our hospital. As an Infectious Diseases Specialist, I consult many patients, who have got the vaccine or are going to get one, on a daily basis. In our country no serious adverse events have been detected and reported since the first vaccine was injected. Some of my patients have chronic conditions, while some of them are allergic to different things. Nevertheless, even those categories of patients did not developed any serious side effects after COVID-19 vaccines.”
Sore arm after vaccination
“Many of our patients complain about the pain in their arms after getting the COVID-19 shot. The injection site might also look swollen or red. Those complains usually disappear on the second or the third day after the vaccination. Those mild side effects are expected and temporary. This is a way the vaccine teaches our immune system to develop antibodies against the virus,” said the doctor. She added, “Apart from that, we’ve been reported that in some rare cases people have experienced swollen lymph nodes or rash in the armpit. However, in my practice I have never encountered such patients.”
Songül Özer, M.D., Infectious Diseases Specialist, said that such symptoms as nausea, vomiting, general weakness and headache did occur in some patients in different countries, however, the most important fact that we should keep in mind is that approximately 99% of the complaints listed above have been of psychosomatic origin. “Vaccines do not cause serious side effects on their own. We as doctors could understand people who are afraid of injections or any medical intervention in general. But it should not take the form of phobia or intrusive and obsessive thinking like “Does this vaccine contain dangerous ingredients?”, “What if it causes something bad?” etc. Medical science has made tremendous progress. Humankind is able to protect itself with the help of vaccines against various deadly infections.
Battle against COVID-19
The doctor continues, “Though the COVID-19 vaccines have been developed quickly, it does not mean that the scientists cut corners on testing for safety and efficacy. The vaccines went through all the required stages of clinical trials. Vaccine making process has been tested over many years, it is not something that has been appeared up recently. The key thing is that the vaccine protects not only you and your family, friends from severe illness and death, it keeps others safe and helps to build herd immunity, which is the only way to defeat COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines’ effectiveness may vary slightly, nevertheless, all of them enable people to avoid hospitalisation and severe adverse events as well as the spread of the virus and the development of new strains and variants. Efficacy percentage and other specific peculiarities are the areas of vital concern to scientists. We, in our turn, in the face of potential dangers posed by virus variants, are able to halt the spread of COVID-19, which already claimed more than 4 millions of human lives.” Dr. Songül Özer added that all her family members have been vaccinated. As for Turkey, the majority of population is supposed to get two doses of the vaccine till August.
Effectiveness against new Delta strain
Nowadays there are several COVID-19 vaccines authorized in Turkey. The CEO and a co-founder of BioNTech, Uğur Şahin, M.D., Immunology and Oncology Specialist talked about RNA-vaccine his team has developed. BioNTech claimed 36 percent of effectiveness against COVID-19 new strain called Delta after the first dose and around 88 percent of effectiveness against Delta variant after the second dose of the vaccine. In comparison to this vaccine, a well-known BCG vaccine against tuberculosis has 60-70 % of effectiveness. Therefore, undoubtedly, 88% is a significant level of protection. “When we talk about protection,” continues the doctor, “we mean the protection against getting ill and developing severe complications, which can lead to hospitalisation and intubation in the ICU, and finally, to life-threatening conditions as organ failures or even to fatal illness.”
Do I need the vaccine after having COVID-19?
Infectious Diseases Specialist at NPİSTANBUL Brain Hospital, Songül Özer strongly recommends her patients to get vaccinated regardless of whether you have already had COVID-19 or not, especially, if you got sick a year ago. Why so? Recent studies have shown that the vaccination in people who have recovered from COVID-19 provides a strong immunity against the new strains of the virus and boost protection in general. “We witnessed our patients got COVID-19 for the second time with more severe and serious complications than they experienced for the first time. Many patients were admitted to the ICU for the second time, some of them, unfortunately, passed away. According to the recent requirements, you should get the vaccine 6 months after your recovery,” said the doctor.
Sadly, there is no sign of an imminent end to the pandemic. The longer the virus circulates everywhere, the greater the chance of new variants and mutations emerging. To sum it up, it is much safer for your overall health to teach your immune system through vaccination than by catching the diseases and treating them.