Everyone should get vaccinated if they can. And I mean everyone

August 18, 2021 | 07:17 pm PT
Truong Huu Khanh Epidemiologist
Yes, even you with your underlying conditions and allergies. Side effects, even if there are any, are a much better alternative to what the coronavirus is capable of.

People have been asking me if they and their loved ones should get vaccinated. Some voice concerns about the health of older people, their underlying conditions, even their fear of death.

No matter who asks, I tell them vaccination is the best way to protect oneself from Covid-19, and one should never pass up the opportunity.

In online Q&A sessions about vaccination, I always tell young people to convince their parents and grandparents to accompany them for vaccination. A typical Vietnamese family usually has three or four generations under the same roof.

I suggest that the vaccines should be always prioritized for the elderly. The older one gets, the more they need the vaccine.

Why? The side effects of vaccination are of little concern, even more so for seniors. And the most obvious reason is that vaccination is the only way out of the pandemic, our only hope to stop the rising number of infections and deaths that follow.

There is so much misinformation out there that needs to be corrected. Vaccines are safe for the elderly and will not harm their health. Those with weaker constitutions are no more likely to suffer side effects than a world-class athlete. Vaccines will not worsen one's underlying conditions; in fact, those with underlying conditions are the ones who need shots early since the coronavirus is much more likely to wreak havoc on them than on healthier people.

Few drugs are affected by vaccines, which means people can still take their prescription medicines as usual. And not all those with allergies are unable to be vaccinated: even those who have had unpleasant experiences like vomiting, or even require adrenaline shots occasionally, can be vaccinated.

The same goes for pregnant women and those still breastfeeding.

Even those with severe conditions like late-stage cancer or cirrhosis can be vaccinated if they wish, and that decision will always be theirs.

I have been giving vaccines to children for over two decades, and never seen such a widespread vaccination campaign as now to fight Covid.

As more people get vaccinated, it is natural to see more cases of side effects being recorded. It is simple math.

Side effects following vaccination can typically be categorized into two groups: normal side effects and severe ones. The normal cases often go unnoticed, but the severe ones often cause a social media buzz and instill fear in the community.

Just stay calm after getting your shot. Stay back for around 30 minutes so your condition could be monitored, and simply inform doctors if you have itchiness, chest pain, dizziness, or stomachache.

Such instances are very rare though.

A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine shot in HCMCs Thu Duc City, August 15, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen.

A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine shot in HCMC's Thu Duc City on August 15, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen

For the first six hours after returning home, most will feel fine. Then some begin to experience fatigue, fever, headache, and even insomnia. Most of them recover within a day or two, and can resume daily activities immediately afterward.

But for some others, things could get a bit worse.

Their sickness could last longer, and some even have diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues. They should try to rest and eat well, and if needed go to a hospital for some IV fluids.

People with hypertension should measure their blood pressure every 4-6 hours after the shot for the first 24 hours. If pain at the injection site or any other place persists for more than four days, they should seek medical help.

If there is anything that still weighs on your mind, you should ask for another health check-up after getting vaccinated.

Some at-risk people get their shot in a hospital or are placed at the bottom of the list for the day; so be patient and wait for your turn.

After spending decades researching and working in the medical field, I always hope our vaccination campaign turns out well.

While times have changed, in the past many people have lost their lives to diseases like measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus due to a lack of vaccines. Covid-19 is no different.

While the number of new infections in Ho Chi Minh City has been plateauing lately, it is not a cause for celebration yet.

Many have chosen to self-test at home, meaning we do not know exactly how many positive cases are out there. A much more important metric is the number of severe cases.

To drive it down, we cannot let the coronavirus get to our most vulnerable population, which requires planning and strategizing when it comes to giving vaccines.

Everyone should strive to get their first shot first, and those most at risk need to be fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

Please get your shot if you can. And medics must not turn down someone's request to get vaccinated because of reasons that should not matter. Please give them every opportunity to get that shot. Because that one shot might be the difference between life and death.

It is our unalienable right to get vaccinated. It is time to exercise that.

*Truong Huu Khanh is an epidemiologist and a member of the National Board for Vaccine Evaluation. The opinions expressed are his own.

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