Efficient and safe: Moscow doctors talk about vaccinations against COVID-19 from their own experience

June 28
Healthcare

Moscow doctors were among the first ones who got access to the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the civil commerce, and before that - during clinical trials that took place in the Moscow health care institutions. For those who work in the center of infection, such protection was especially needed. Doctors told mos.ru about the way they endured vaccination and why they consider it safe and necessary for the major people.

“Build a safety net”

One of the first who was vaccinated - back in October - was the head of the 52nd hospital department of X-ray surgical diagnostics and treatment methods, Alexander Vanyukov. He said that he had no doubts about the need for vaccination. “I was convinced enough by professional publications about the vaccine. Seeing what was happening around me, I thought it would be stupid not to build a safety net for myself,” the physician says.

After the first Sputnik V dose he did not feel anything, after the second one - a slight chill and body aches, but they quickly disappeared. For eight months, Alexander Vanyukov has not been infected and today he feels great. Now he plans to get revaccinated to be even more confident in protection.

The physician calls the vaccine the only way to stop the explosive increase in the incidence - it is dangerous not only because people are seriously ill, but also because places in hospitals are limited.

“Getting sick is much harder than being vaccinated. We see how hard it is for people to recover and how long it takes to rehabilitate, not to mention that the disease is fatal,” Alexander Vanyukov recalls.

He does not divide people into those who need to be vaccinated now, and who - later. “We have vaccinations available, if not at every corner, then around the corner, for sure. The more people get vaccinated, the sooner we stop the spread of the virus. It is in other countries that the risk groups are first vaccinated, and then the rest ones. We do not have a deficit,” the physician notes.

According to him, it is especially important to think about vaccinations for young people. In most cases, they get sick easily, but they have a large social circle. “If you have the disease asymptomatically or with minimal manifestations, then you spread it twice as much as those who stay at home in quarantine. Young people may not pay attention to a slight ailment, they will run about their business, they will not even take the test, and they can infect many people,” Alexander Vanyukov says.

He emphasizes that it is absolutely safe to get vaccinated.

“People look for symptoms after vaccination”

In October, Andrei Tyazhelnikov, the chief freelance primary health care specialist of the Moscow Department of Health and the chief physician of Polyclinic No. 121, underwent vaccination. He says that he would have got the vaccine earlier: he wanted to participate in vaccine research, but as the head of a medical institution he could not do it. “First, I consider it important to protect myself and those close to me. And second, I wanted to personally prove that the vaccine is safe and effective,” he notes.

According to the physician, he tolerated both vaccine components easily: “There was a slight chill, but I think that many people are starting to look for certain symptoms, so they may feel that they are developing.” After the vaccination, he did not become infected, although many people around him were ill.

The physician did not monitor the level of antibodies and does not advise others to do so. The degree of protection against the virus, according to him, does not directly depend upon it. And Andrei Tyazhelnikov proposes to judge the effectiveness of the vaccine by clinical manifestations: the vaccinated people either do not get sick in principle, or in those isolated cases when they do get sick, they tolerate the virus much easier than those unvaccinated.

“After vaccination, an immune response is formed in the body. It helps fight the virus if a person encounters it. In most cases, this goes away asymptomatically, but occasionally there are symptoms that are regarded as a disease of the vaccinated. At the same time, it is much lower than that of those who have not been vaccinated,” the physician says.

He emphasizes that immunization is not a protective suit that viruses jump off. Anyway, the body is in contact with them, but in most cases, immunity enables not to notice it.

Andrei Tyazhelnikov recommends that people with chronic diseases be certainly vaccinated - there are no side effects recorded for them, and they tolerate the coronavirus itself harder. “We do not vaccinate a person who is currently diagnosed with an acute illness or exacerbation of a chronic one. But if the disease proceeds as planned, the patient takes the necessary medications, and his/her vital signs are normal - such people need to be vaccinated. Otherwise, chronic diseases, if a patient becomes ill with a coronavirus infection, are exacerbated in almost 100 percent of cases,” the physician says.

The fact that it is absolutely safe to become vaccinated is confirmed not only by the current vaccination campaign, but also by similar events throughout the twentieth century.

“Due to mass immunization, we have defeated such serious diseases as smallpox, measles, polio etc. Immunization against coronavirus is no different,” Andrey Tyazhelnikov adds.

“One need to be afraid not of vaccination, but of the coronavirus”

In June, Natalya Kuzenkova, chief physician of Polyclinic No. 68, got the first dose of the vaccine. Last spring, she was seriously ill with COVID-19 and now, when the immune defense began to decline, she decided to get vaccinated. The clinic doctors began to get vaccinated in September as part of the third phase of the Sputnik V study. Today they work in vaccination centers and as part of mobile teams in shopping centers in Moscow. During this time, they vaccinated more than 70 thousand people.

According to Natalia Kuzenkova, one need to be afraid not of vaccination, but of the coronavirus. “The vaccine effectiveness according to the results of clinical trials is 91.6 percent. Post-vaccination reactions - pain and redness at the injection site, a temperature rise - are not complications, they are stopped by taking anti-inflammatory drugs and pass off quite easily,” the physician says. She reminds that no vaccine in the world has one hundred percent protection, but the indicator for Sputnik V is very high.

Natalya Kuzenkova says that there is no sense in constantly checking the level of antibodies and measuring them against each other. “Vaccinal immunity and the immunity of a person who has been ill are two big differences, they are measured by different systems. But one needn’t to take an antibody test either before or after vaccination,” the physician explains.

The one should not be vaccinated immediately after illness, she said. It is important to resolve the issue of timing together with the attending physician. And for those who are vaccinated, protection against COVID-19 begins to form after the first vaccination. “But the full development of the immune response continues after the second dose of the vaccine,” Natalia Kuzenkova adds.

“Vaccination inhibits virus mutations”

For more than six months, Igor Sychev, head of the clinical pharmacology department of S.S.  Yudin Hospital, has been the chief researcher at one of the centers studying the first domestic vaccine against COVID-19, Sputnik V. After being convinced of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine as part of the study, at the end of 2020, the doctor decided to be vaccinated with Sputnik V. After the procedure, there was a slight weakness, but the temperature did not rise much. “This can be the case after any vaccine,” Igor Sychev  says.

Igor Sychev, like his colleagues, is not focused on antibodies. “A person has cellular and humoral immunity - one produces antibodies, and the other remembers viruses and bacteria and, when they re-enter the body, can distinguish them,” Igor Sychev says.

According to the doctor, vaccination is so important because herd immunity does not just stop the growth in the number of cases - it makes further mutation of the virus and formation of new strains less probable. First of all, Igor Sychev recommends passing it to patients from risk groups - older people, those with chronic diseases, as well as those who work in the focus of infection. “But everyone else needs the vaccine, because we all go shopping, by the subway - apart from anti-epidemic (masks and gloves) one, we need immunological protection,” the doctor emphasizes.

There are contraindications for vaccination, but there are few of them - vaccinations are not given to pregnant women and children, since the vaccine for them has not yet been fully investigated. The people with diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease or kidney failure need a vaccine, Igor Sychev believes, the course of coronavirus for them may be the most severe.

Where and how to get vaccinated

Vaccination against COVID-19 in Moscow can be done free of charge. The vaccine is available to everyone over 18 years old at 119 points on the basis of city polyclinics. For getting into them, a preliminary registration is needed. Vaccinations are given without registration in the Zdorovaya Moskva (Healthy Moscow) pavilions, which are now open exclusively for vaccination, as well as in shopping malls, My Documents flagship public service centers and other popular public places where mobile teams work. Medical duty schedule  is published  on mos.ru.

Source: mos.ru

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