Covid vaccine: Don’t be afraid, say doctors who’ve taken it


Indian-American doctors who have taken the Covid-19 vaccine stressed on the importance of people not being afraid and said the more people take it the more effective the vaccine will be in protecting the society from the pandemic.

Dr Kishore Challa (right in image on top), a cardiologist at Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston, West Virginia, felt him taking the Covid-19 vaccine would give courage to others.

The first lot of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech arrived at the Thomas Memorial Hospital on December 14.

Dr Challa along with several doctors who serve as front-line doctors were vaccinated.

I tell people don’t be afraid of the vaccine, it is good for me, so it is good for all,” Dr Challa, who is president of the West Virginia Board of Medicine, told indica News.

Asked if he experienced any side effects, Dr Challa replied in the negative but said he was prepared and tried to set up a back-up to follow up with his patients if he fell ill.

On Thursday, December 17, when indica News spoke to him, he sounded happy: “We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Dr Challa said he went to work the day after taking the vaccine. The only discomfort he felt was that the spot on his left arm where he took the vaccine shot was a little sore.

It’s like any other injection — a little burning sensation at the injection side. I did not get any muscle ache or cough or fever,” he said.

His next Covid-19 vaccine shot is on January 4.

The vaccine is widely called the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. The code name used in clinical trials is BNT162b2 and is given to people 16 years and older. Everyone is given two doses of the vaccine, 21 days apart.

Dr Challa said that usually the side effects, if any, are more apparently with the second dose.

The way I look at it is, I would rather have the vaccine than the virus,” he said.

Asked about reported concerns over the vaccine affecting immunity, he said: “I don’t think so. In fact these two vaccines [by Pfizer BioNTech, and the other by Moderna] are mRNA vaccines, a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases. They do not alter the DNA of a person or anything.”

In a tweet, former Center for Disease Control (CDC) director Dr Tom Frieden explained how these vaccines work.

An mRNA vaccine doesn’t actually contain the virus itself. Think of it as an email sent to your immune system that shows what the virus looks like, instructions to kill it, and then—like a Snapchat message—it disappears. Amazing technology.”

Dr Challa hoped Moderna’s vaccine, which got approved by a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel on Thursday, December 17, would roll out on Saturday.

They (Moderna) have 6 million doses ready to go,” Dr Challa said.

If both vaccines are available can people decide which one to get?

Dr Challa said: “ Not sure about the choice but vaccines are not interchangeable and if you get Pizer first dose it has to be Pfizer the second time too.”

He said in two weeks’ time, “you get antibodies which protect you 40 to 50 percent. Then you get the second dose you have to wait two weeks after the second dose and get 90 to 95 percent protection” from Covid-19.

He said to develop the immune response, people should take one vitamin C, D and Zinc and curcumin.

These four things improve your immunity,” he said.

Are diabetics and those with heart disease more vulnerable to Covid-19?

More than Covid they are more vulnerable to complications of Covid,” he said. “Anyone can get the virus; but when anybody with diabetes, obesity or known heart disease gets Covid-19 they are more prone to have a lot of complications from it.”

Another Indian-American physician, Dr Jayesh Shah (left in image on top), former president of the American Association pf Physicians of Indian origin (AAPI) got the vaccine on December 17.

It is similar to flu vaccine and nothing to be afraid of,” Dr Shah told indica News. “It is not carrying a live virus and will create immunity to help fight Covid-19.”

It is not something to worry about,” Dr Shah stressed. “Everyone who has access to the vaccine please take it because it is the only way we can beat the disease; this will help to form herd immunity.”

He added: “The best way to fight the disease is we fight by vaccination, and by creating the herd immunity the disease cannot affect anybody. It is so important that everybody takes the vaccine.”

More than 300,000 people have died in the US from Covid-19, 20,000 of them in California where many counties and cities such as Los Angeles are reeling from the pandemic with doctors narrating harrowing tales of full ICUs.

There were 52,281 newly recorded confirmed cases on Wednesday in California.

Dr. Challa blamed people for not taking the virus seriously and going out on vacation, partying, going for Thanksgiving gatherings.


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