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UAE health experts have explained all matters, from allergies to breastfeeding, related to COVID-19 vaccines. Photo for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Dubai: Three times that Rachel Thomas, 50, (name changed on request) walked into a vaccination centre, she returned without the vaccine as her blood pressure shot up. This triggered a deep fear, putting her off from taking the vaccine itself.

But finally overcoming the fear, she got her two doses and shared her story to reassure others who may be like her. “I have hypertension and have been taking medication. However, despite that, the moment I would enter the vaccination centre my blood pressure would shoot up to approximately 170/95. But had I let the fear take hold of my mind, I would never have got the vaccination. The fourth time, under my doctor’s advice, I changed my hypertension pills and was also prescribed a diuretic the night before. I took to some deep breathing and meditation and finally I successfully managed my first jab. The second dose, two weeks later, was a breeze. I am so glad I persevered despite the initial fears,” she added.

Gulf News spoke to some doctors on the common fears surrounding the vaccine. Dr Sundar Elayeperumal, specialist microbiologist at Burjeel Hospital, Dr Atul Aundhekar, GP and CEO of Avivo Health Care and Dr Meenakshi Jaine, specialist pathologist at Prime Hospital, answered the basic questions while busting 10 vaccine-related myths. They also urged people not to indulge in fear mongering and assured them that the vaccine is the best defence against COVID-19.

Q. Will I get a fever, chills and pain if I take the vaccine?

Dr Sundar Elayeperumal

A. Not everyone gets fever and pain. Most inoculated individuals do not show any signs. A small number may show these signs but they are normal. There is nothing that cannot be managed with a mild anti-pyretic or painkiller. If one does suffer a slight discomfort, that is not a big issue as these responses only indicate that the body is mounting an immune response to the vaccine and it is a favourable sign.

Q. I still can’t go to crowded places, so what is the benefit of being vaccinated?

A: Vaccines are designed to provide maximum protection from COVID-19. However, COVID-19 protocols have to be observed until the pandemic goes away as we run the risk of being exposed to a higher viral load in a crowd as well as to new variations. variants typically have the capacity to spread and infect many people in a shorter time. The ability to handle viral load at crowded places for vaccinated people is definitely far better as compared to the non-vaccinated. The vaccine offers higher protection against contracting infection.

Q. Will I introduce the COVID-19 virus in my blood stream through vaccination?

Dt Atul Aundhekar

A. Technically speaking, no vaccine introduces a virus in body. All vaccines, be it the inactivated virus-based vaccine or the Messenger RNA vaccine, mimic virus-like particles or proteins. Therefore, it is a big myth that vaccination means introducing the virus in the body

Q. What if I get the infection after the vaccine? Why go in for it at all?

A. It is possible to still get exposure to COVID-19 and test positive despite the vaccination. However, the severity and extent of infection is far milder. Unless a patient suffers from co-morbidities such as diabetes, obesity, cancer or the like, one can can definitely avoid hospitalisation, In any case, incidence of severity of infection is likely to be far less, once vaccinated.

Q. Does the vaccine make me COVID-19 positive?

Dr Meenakshi Jaine

A. This is a fallacious argument. There is no evidence to indicate that a patient who took the jab actually tested positive to it. Vaccines do not make you COVID-19 positive, they instead protect you from infection, or help in reducing the severity of the disease in case you are infected.

Q. Does the vaccine have any repercussions which doctors don’t know of?

A. Most signs after any vaccination are known and short lasting, such as pain, redness and swelling at the vaccination site, fever, headache, fatigue etc. These are normal signs that indicate that your body is building protection. However, if you experience severe allergic reaction after your first dose, then it is advisable not to take the second dose.

Q. I have an egg allergy. Will this vaccine cause an outbreak?

A. No, this vaccine does not cause any outbreak due to egg allergy, nor lead to death. None of the COVID-19 vaccines available contain any egg protein that can trigger allergies. However, those who are allergic to vaccine or any of its components must avoid taking vaccine as per official guidelines.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people get vaccinated even if they have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications—such as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies.

Q. Do doctors in contact with herpes zoster virus cause an outbreak after if they are sick after vaccination?

Herpes Zoster is a latent infection caused by Varicella Zoster (Chicken Pox) virus. It is likely that while you were vaccinated for COVID-19 and your immune system is distracted generating new anti-bodies, an old herpes infection may have be reactivated. However, COVID- 19 vaccine does not cause shingles or herpes zoster. If you do have a flare-up of herpes, post vaccination, it might be best to consult your doctor, go in for medication, rest and isolate yourself until the infection subsides.

Q. Does vaccination cause complication in those undergoing chemotherapy?

A. It depends upon the type of chemotherapy, individual response and other laboratory parameters. Your oncologist is the best judge and you should consult him/ her prior to the vaccination. The immune response to the vaccine in cancer patients who may have undergone chemotherapy is likely to be different compared to others. It is advisable to take the vaccine under proper medical guidance.

Q Does the vaccine affect newborns when women who have just delivered take the vaccine?

There is no contraindication of the vaccine in case of breastfeeding mothers nor is there any adverse effects in the child.