As Covid-19 cases once again see an uptick in the country, the efforts to contain its spread and reduce risk of hospitalisations and deaths through booster drive are at full steam. Getting fully vaccinated against Covid-19 is known to significantly reduce risk of a severe disease needing admission to hospital or ICU and mortality. However, vaccines do not necessarily prevent one from getting infected with Covid and with the emergence of newer strains and subvariants of Omicron, the risk of breakthrough infections seems to have increased. (Also read: What is XE variant? Experts on common symptoms, severity and possibility of new wave)
Experts, note that the symptoms of Covid-19 in fully vaccinated people may progress a bit differently than in unvaccinated people. The symptoms are expected to be milder and doctors note that during third wave, sore throat was the only symptoms in vaccinated people, while others had cough, cold, fever, sore throat, high-grade fever and body pain even after vaccination.
“The main difference between the unvaccinated and vaccinated population are not the symptoms but the progression and the pace of progression of the disease. In an unvaccinated population, progression is rapid and disease is severe,” Dr Sai Reddy, Consultant Pulmonologist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad told HT Digital.
Dr Reddy says considering majority of population is already vaccinated, Covid at present is slightly different from the Covid in the past.
Vaccination may not fully protect you from Covid and this is the reason one must watch out for breakthrough infections although the symptoms may not be severe.
“Vaccination is a vital tool to prevent yourself and those around you from the life-threatening virus, and reduce the severity of the disease. But vaccination will not mean that you will not get infected with Coronavirus at all. All the available Coronavirus vaccines are good at protecting people against severe forms of Covid-19, but they are not 100 % effective in preventing infection. Those fully vaccinated people with weakened immunity due to various medical conditions like cancer or chemotherapy or the ones who fail to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour are at the risk of breakthrough Covid infection,” says Dr Bipin Jibhkate, Consultant critical care medicine, and ICU director Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road.
Common symptoms in fully vaccinated people
Sore throat was the most common symptom in vaccinated people during third wave. Dr Jibhkate says severe symptoms such as breathing problems, brain fog, back pain, loss of speech or mobility, confusion, or chest pain have not been reported in fully vaccinated people.
“The common symptoms of Covid-19 in the ones who were fully vaccinated are a headache, cough, runny nose, fatigue, sore throat, fatigue, sneezing, fever, muscle pain, or joint pain,” says Dr Bipin Jibhkate.
Dr Jibhkate says that breakthrough coronavirus infections may lead to mild or moderate illness, but assures the risk of serious Covid-19 is very low when it comes to those who don’t have any chronic health condition.
“People with vaccine breakthrough infections may spread Covid-19 to others. However, fully vaccinated people with a breakthrough infection are less likely to have serious illness with Covid-19 than those who are unvaccinated. Even when vaccinated people develop symptoms, they tend to be less severe than those experienced by unvaccinated individuals,” says Dr Santosh Jha, Med sup., Consultant Pulmonologist, Porvoo Transition Care.
According to Dr Jha, the classic symptoms of Covid-19 in unvaccinated people are fever, continuous cough, loss of sense of smell and taste, fatigue and joint pain. He, however, says in fully vaccinated people, Covid symptoms mimic flu symptoms and some of the most common signs are sore throat, headache, runny nose and sneezing.
Long-Covid symptoms not reported among fully vaccinated
According to Dr Bipin Jibhkate, those who were fully vaccinated did not report any serious long-Covid symptoms such as memory problems, pounding heartbeat, shortness of breath, pneumonia, gut problems, sleep issues, anxiety, or extreme fatigue (tiredness). He adds that as per the evidence available, the patients who got admitted to the hospital were not vaccinated at all.
Dr Jibhkate concludes that even fully-vaccinated people must strictly follow the Covid norms of masking, social distancing, hand sanitizing, avoiding crowded places, not being around sick people and must take the booster dose when eligible for it.