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What to expect – Jab we get – the Jab!

Feb 16 2021 / Posted in Health

A first-hand experience with the COVID-19 vaccine


Dr Harvinder Palaha, Programme Director, Maternal and Newborn Health, SNEHA receiving the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine Covishield at Sion Hospital on 29th January 2021

Covishield Vaccination Timeline:
Waiting period: 1 hour

Screening: 15 minutes
Vaccination: 10 minutes
Observation: 30 minutes 
Side Effects: mild pain and headache, paracetamol treatment   


The COVID-19 pandemic turned our words upside down, causing unimaginable destruction of lives, livelihoods, dreams, futures and of course, hope. The dark clouds of despair showed no inclination of parting and people were trying to live amongst raging chaos and panic wondering when this ordeal would be over. There was a radical change in lifestyles, work cultures, education, priorities and adaptation to the new normal. In these trying and testing times, the only ray of hope has been the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured and tested in our country.

Being from a medical background and having worked with immunizations throughout my career of 35 years, I had no doubt that the vaccine will bring the much-needed relief and protection to all from this deadly pandemic. As the results of vaccine trials became public and the government started rolling out, in detail and with clarity, the COVID-19 vaccination program, the largest ever program in our country after the Pulse Polio drive, some voices of concern and doubts about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines started emerging. With growing media coverage, confusion started to form in people’s minds about the safety of taking the vaccine.

On a personal front, I took a stand in favour of the vaccine and told everyone around me that the choice was between taking this vaccine and contracting COVID-19. Though the preventive measures will also protect but seeing the trend now-a-days it seems very unlikely. While there were several reports of vaccine hesitancy and poor coverage which did not deter me or my other senior colleagues, SNEHA’s  Executive Director Dr Shanti Pantvaidya and medical consultant Dr Padmaja Keskar.

Once registration was completed , the whole process was perfectly synchronised. I got a text message on my mobile informing me about my registration number and a helpline. On calling the helpline, a very gracious staffer informed me that I will soon get another text message on 25th January 2021 informing me about the date, time and place of vaccination. On 28th January 2021, I received another message that I was to report to Sion Hospital for vaccination on 29th January 2021, between 9.00 am to 5.00 pm and to carry my photo ID with me.

On the day of the vaccination, an initial screening was conducted.  The staff called us in and assigned us to cubicles. After checking and confirming each person’s photo ID, I was asked some questions such as -  whether  I had suffered from COVID in the last 90 days or had any co-morbidities like Blood Pressure (BP), Diabetes etc. Thereafter,  I proceeded for vaccination. There, before vaccination, a second  screening for temperature and identity verification was completed. I got my vaccination in the cubicle.  The staff was very polite and professional. After vaccination we were asked to wait for 30 minutes in an observation area and report if any adverse symptoms like dizziness or rashes were observed.  I experienced a mild headache in the evening after I returned home and took a Crocin for the same. The entire process was handled efficiently and  I am now looking forward to receiving the second dose. I was informed I will be sent the details on my mobile and will also get my certification of having received the vaccination also. I am deeply grateful to Dr Padmaja Keskar for all her support to get the vaccination, which is a vital step forward to fight the pandemic.

As per current data, nearly 60% (40 million) of our healthcare workers have been vaccinated. There has been less than 0.01% reporting of adverse effects and less than 0.002% required brief hospitalization. I salute the efforts of the Government of India for carrying out this vast and difficult exercise so professionally. I recommend all eligible people to get the vaccination as soon as their turn comes so that we can win this battle of COVID-19 successfully.


Voices from the stalwarts

“It was a very positive and smoothly executed process. The staff was trained, courteous and professional. I could meet many of my former colleagues and students and that was an added advantage. Very mild post vaccination symptoms including mild pain and body ache, responded to Paracetamol.”
- Dr. Shanti Pantvaidya
“Absolutely no problem at all! Efficiently managed process, minimal side effects!”
- Dr Padmaja Keskar