During World Immunization Week, Dr. Katia Abarca, infectious disease specialist and medical director of the Sinovac vaccine study in Chile, the main vaccine against COVID-19 being administered in this country, reassured that the vaccine is safe, effective and indispensable to help control the pandemic.
Currently, almost 8 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, reaching 49.3% of the target population, while almost 6 million people have received both doses. These numbers make Chile one of the fastest advancing countries in the coronavirus inoculation process.
According to Dr. Katia Abarca, infectious disease specialist and medical director of the Sinovac vaccine study in Chile, the decrease in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in patients over 70 years old is an indicator of the effectiveness of vaccination. “If we talk about hard science, we don´t know, but it is an indicator. In my opinion, it is an indicator that the vaccine is protecting them from what we expected it to protect them from which is getting a serious illness and having to be hospitalized. As age decreases this reduction is lost and this coincides with the vaccine schedule. Hence one can suppose that vaccination really is effective,” she assured.
During World Immunization Week, Dr. Abarca, who is also a professor at Universidad Católica, urged the population to go to vaccination centers according to the dates on the calendar published by the Health Ministry, and reassured that the vaccine is safe, effective and free of charge.
“Chile is privileged because we have vaccines available. There are many developed countries that do not have the capacity and others that are much further behind. We have this amazing benefit free of charge and although the effectiveness is not 100%, for sure it will help and it is much better than not getting vaccinated and being exposed to a serious illness and eventually dying from it. The vaccine not only helps us as individuals, but it also helps to control the disease nationally. So, there is a bit of social responsibility involved as well,” she said.
The expert is cautious to forecast reaching herd immunity as new virus variants have shown to be dynamic. For this reason, the call is to get vaccinated and continue with self-care measures like wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, frequent hand washing, keeping distance between people and airing out closed spaces, as well as complying with the current health measures.
“It´s very important to maintain self-care measures because, as mentioned in the past, the Sinovac vaccine does not prevent all infections; it prevents about half. So, we can still get infected but this infection is normally going to be mild, we are going to be able to be at home, and in many cases without any symptoms at all. However, we can still transmit the disease to others. This is why self-care measures must remain intact,” she explained.
In addition, the influenza vaccination campaign is also underway. Dr. Abarca recognized the tremendous effort on behalf of the vaccination centers, primary healthcare centers and the municipalities to move forward with double vaccination campaigns. She urged people to get vaccinated, bearing in mind that the flu vaccine must be administered at least 14 days after receiving the dose of the coronavirus vaccine.