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Why Covid jab is not immediate protection against virus

Medics say it takes three weeks for body to mount an immune response

In Summary
  • Once you are injected with the vaccine, it takes three weeks for your body to mount an immune response.
  • This means that when you get the vaccine today you still have a chance of contracting the virus because it takes time for you to mount an immune response.
Nairobi Metropolitan Service Director for health Dr. Josephine Kibaru Mbae getting Covid-19 vaccine at Mutuini hospital
Nairobi Metropolitan Service Director for health Dr. Josephine Kibaru Mbae getting Covid-19 vaccine at Mutuini hospital
Image: COURTESY

One week after Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi received the AstraZeneca jab, he went into isolation after testing positive for Covid-19.

Just this week, former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero tested positive for the virus days after being vaccinated against the disease.

He had been vaccinated on Monday last week at Gertrude Children’s Hospital in Nairobi.

He has since gone into isolation for the next two weeks.

This has left Kenyans asking on the efficacy of the jab to protect them against the virus that has so far claimed more than 2,000 lives in the country.

But experts say vaccination is not immediate protection.

Once you are injected, it takes three weeks for your body to mount an immune response.

This means that when you get the vaccine today you still have a chance of contracting the virus because it takes time for you to mount an immune response.

“The partial immune response comes after three weeks and then you realise the second dose is after eight weeks so you have 11 weeks already,” Vaccines Deployment Taskforce chairman Dr Willis Akhwale notes.

“The full protection comes after the second dose and it also takes three weeks so we are talking of 14 weeks so basically we are talking of three months before you get full protection,” he adds.

This means Kenyans will have to continue to religiously follow the existing Ministry of Health containment measures and protocols such as wearing of mask, observing social distancing and avoiding crowded places as has always been advised.

“Some of the reasons we are seeing long queues is people think that if they get vaccinated now they will escape the third wave, no it will start protecting you as you proceed and in the future,” the medic says.

As at Thursday, 378,363 Kenyans had received their first dose of the jab against the target of 1.25 million by end of June.

From the number, 104,726 are healthcare workers, 30,821 are security officers, 52,420 being teachers and 190,393 being members of the public including those aged above 58 years.

“Immunity is conferred upon three weeks of vaccination. That is the time we start seeing your body built enough antibodies to start protecting you and so you can still get the disease and still transmit the disease to people in your family and in your community,” Health CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi says.

The CAS however maintains that vaccines save lives. Once you get the jab, you are assured of being protected against the virus for a period of at least one year.

-Edited by Sarah Kanyara