The Union Health Ministry on Friday said that the Covid-19 vaccine will be safe and effective but could show minor side effects like fever and pain at the injection site, adding that taking its shot will be voluntary.
The comment comes at a time when questions are being raised at the safety and efficacy of the vaccine being developed at a phenomenal rate. According to a recent survey, nearly 70 per cent people are hesitant to take the vaccine fearing its side-effects.
Allaying the fear, the Health Ministry said, "Covid-19 vaccines will be introduced only when their safety is proven. The vaccines will be safe and effective but may have minor side effects like fever, pain, etc. at the injection site. These effects can happen in any vaccine."
States have been directed to start making arrangements to deal with any Covid-19 vaccine-related side-effects as one of the measures towards safe vaccine delivery among masses, the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry clarified this in a series of frequently asked questions on Covid-19 vaccine and responded to questions like is the vaccine scheduled anytime soon, how long it takes for the antibodies to develop and if it was necessary for a recovered person to take the vaccine.
Recently, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that 'adverse' reactions cannot be ruled out when vaccination starts. Such events have also been seen in some cases with Pfizer-Biontech's Covid vaccine in the UK.
The UK government had asked people with significant history of allergies to not take the vaccine.
In a sign of relief, vaccinated people will be monitored for thirty minutes pursuant to getting the shots for any adverse event, according to recently released guidelines for the mass vaccination drive.
Besides this, the ministry said that getting vaccinated for Covid-19 will be voluntary, while underlining that the vaccine introduced in India will be as effective as any vaccine developed by other countries.
It further stated that it was advisable to receive a complete schedule of the anti-coronavirus vaccine irrespective of past history of infection with COVID-19 as this will help in developing a strong immune response against the disease.
As many as eight Covid-19 vaccine candidates are under different stages of clinical trials which could be ready for authorization in near future, including three indigenous vaccines.
It includes AstraZeneca and Oxford university developed and Serum Institute of India manufactured Covishield; Covaxin by Bharat Biotech Limited; ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila and Russian vaccine candidate Sputnik-V.
The list also contains NVX-CoV2373 by SII, HGCO19 by Geneva, and two unlabeled vaccines -- Recombinant Protein Antigen-based vaccine by Biological E Limited; and Inactivated rabies vector platform by Bharat Biotech.
In the FAQs, the ministry asserted that vaccine trials are under different stages of finalization. The government is geared to launch a vaccine soon.