Did You Get Your Vaccine?

  Vibha Varshney |     August 12, 2021

“You got the vaccine!?” Babbi screeched excitedly. She was talking to her 13-year-old cousin, Manu, in the US. “Did it hurt? Did you get fever? And did you get the clot?” Babbi could barely sit still during that video call.

“Nah… nothing happened,” Manu assured her, behaving like a responsible older brother. He didn’t experience any major adverse effects after the COVID-19 vaccine. But he understood why Babbi was worrying. He too had been scared of the vaccine and had read up extensively about it. Not wanting to lose this chance to show-off, he offered to explain how the vaccines work to Babbi.

So, Babbi settled down comfortably to listen. This was important. There were talks that her school would be reopened soon. Standard safety protocols—using masks, washing hands, maintaining distance—would be followed. Plus, children in India too would be vaccinated soon.

Manu started explaining about the vaccine. “The vaccine teaches our body to recognize a virus. The immune cells in our body are then ready to kill the virus, if it tries to infect us.”

“Ooo… so that’s how the polio, measles, mumps, and other vaccines would have worked on me, when I was a kid,” thought Babbi.

“But unlike the routine vaccines,” cautioned Manu, “the coronavirus vaccines are different.” All these vaccines against the coronavirus were developed in less than a year, and information on their safety and efficiency is limited. We still don’t know how they will work on kids. These vaccines are the same for adults and children, the quantity of dose to be offered to children is lower.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved a total of 6 vaccines (See the table below). But only one of them is recommended for children for those above 12-years—the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Currently, India does not have any children’s vaccines. Trials are being conducted on Covaxin and ZyCoV-D.

Babbi now gulped to digest so many complicated details. She was left wondering as to why are the schools even reopening when we do not have any vaccines for kids?

Manu assured her but agreed that the decision to open the schools is a difficult one. On one hand, it has been observed that children get less sick due to coronavirus but on the other hand, they can still spread the virus to other people. That is why a lot of precaution is required, he said. I think the schools will watch the situation and quickly close them if needed. “This is what is happening in our school,” he revealed.

“But what about variants?” Babbi asked with concern. She had heard about variants and that people were worried about the vaccines becoming ineffective against the new variants.

“No need to fret,” Manu advised. All viruses mutate as they move from one person to another. “We cannot control the virus so we can only take steps to protect ourselves,” Manu advised. “It is a new disease, Babbi, do not expect to have all the answers right now. All the COVID-19 vaccines have been found effective against the variants so far.”

Babbi was only 10 years of age and it was not likely that she would get the vaccine anytime soon. But she was glad to know that there was no need to worry about it.


Important newsy facts:

Currently, there are 21 COVID-19 vaccines in use around the world of which only six have been approved by WHO. Take a look at them below.


*mRNA vaccine: In these, genetically engineered Messenger RNA (mRNA) is used to train your cells to prepare for an attack by the COVID-19 virus.

**Vector vaccine: In these, genetic material from the COVID-19 virus is placed in a weakened version of a virus that causes common cold in chimpanzees.

***Inactivated vaccine: In this, the virus is killed and inactivated.

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Associate Editor, Down To Earth

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