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What Happens To Your Body When You Get The COVID-19 Vaccine Shot?

In India, more than 65 crores doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 15 crore people being fully vaccinated. Amidst the constant surge in cases around the country, the government and health bodies constantly highlight the importance of getting vaccinated.

Vaccine adversity, that is, the reluctance to get vaccinated, is a commonly observed phenomenon in the country, with the reasons behind this ranging from conspiracy theories to religious beliefs [1][2], even though scientists and health experts around the world are constantly spreading awareness, stressing on the safety of the vaccine, encouraging people to get vaccinated so as to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

One of the most commonly asked questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine is, "what happens to your body when you get vaccinated," and today, we will look into the ways the vaccine affects the human body.

What Happens In Your Body When You Get Vaccinated?

Here is how the vaccine affects your body and protects you against the coronavirus:

  • The COVID-19 vaccines are no different from the other vaccines; that is, one does not need to prepare themselves for any side effects.
  • Every human body and its structure vary, and depending on this, the vaccination's impact can also vary [3].
  • The vaccines contain an agent that resembles the virus, in this case, the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19.
  • The virus in the vaccine is either a weakened or dead microorganism and contain toxins or surface protein [4].
  • This virus in vaccine possesses the virus's genetic material, which is then used by our body to develop the immune system response, creating immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus [5].
  • After the vaccine is administered into your body, the virus-resembling agent enters the tissue cells and links with the dendritic cells [6].
  • Dendritic cells are a type of antigen-presenting cell and play an important role in the adaptive immune system by recognising 'intruders' in the body and alarm the immune system as a response.
  • The dendritic cells then 'read' the genetic instructions about the virus injected into the body through the vaccine, which is then 'replicated' for the body to understand and react (immune response) accordingly [7].
  • If you are on medications, talk to your doctor about any possible interactions or allergies in advance. This includes blood thinners, diabetes medication etc.

Why Does The COVID-19 Vaccine React Differently In People?

The human body is a complex system and varies from one individual to the other, and the functioning of it too varies [8]. For example, drinking milk can cause severe stomach issues in some people, while it doesn't happen in others. Similar to this, the vaccine, too, responds differently in different people.

The side effects, such as headache, body pain, diarrhoea, hair loss etc., caused by the COVID-19 vaccine are signs that the body's immune system is responding to the vaccine [9]. And why does this happen? Let's take a look:

  • The minor side effects caused by the COVID-19 vaccine are signs that your immune system is healthy and well-functioning.
  • The 'virus in the vaccine, upon entering the body, tricks the immune system into thinking it is the 'real' virus (pathogen) as the immune system does not possess the ability to differentiate between the vaccine agent and the actual virus.
  • Then, the white blood cells in your body break down the virus, causing the antibodies to attack the spot where the pathogen entered the body - causing you to experience pain around the injection spot [10].
  • The chemokines and cytokines (proteins secreted by cells that influence the immune system) in your body is responsible for the fatigue and soreness after getting the shot [11].
  • In addition to that, the proteins also cause your body to attract all the immune cells present in the body to the site of infection (injection spot), resulting in inflammation and temporary swelling in the lymph nodes around the armpit [12].

Get Both COVID-19 Vaccine Shots: Second Shot Is As Important As The First Shot

It is important that you get both shots of the COVID-19 vaccine. Both Covishield and Covaxin are administered in two shots. The first shot helps develop neutralising antibodies in the body that help block the SARS-CoV-2 virus from severely impacting your body. The second shot is equally necessary because the antibody protection from the first shot is short-lived, and the effect goes away in some time, making one prone to contracting the coronavirus disease [13][14].

When the second shot is administered to your body after a gap of certain months, it helps the body develop long-term memory cells and short-term protective antibodies. Due to this, some people can experience side effects that are a tiny bit severe than the first time because by the second dose enters your body; the body would have built a stronger and better-equipped immune response against the virus [15].

On A Final Note...

Doctors and scientists assure that while some people may experience severe side effects due to vaccination, that numbers are exceedingly low compared to the benefits vaccination has. It is safe to say that the benefits of vaccination triumph its side effects and if you are not yet vaccinated, get it done soon.

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