COVID-19 vaccination: Beware of bogus dos & don’ts

COVID-19 vaccination: Beware of bogus dos & don’ts

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While proper nutrition and hydration are essential for good health, there’s no evidence to support claims made by a WhatsApp forward to reduce the side effects of vaccines. 

By Jisha Krishnan

As the surge in COVID-19 cases causes renewed concerns, there has been a deluge of misleading and unscientific claims on social media about the vaccines and their side effects. One such WhatsApp forward in India claims that it’s from Singapore; none of our colleagues and acquaintances in the Southeast Asian city-state have come across the message in their region though. 

While doctors concur that proper nutrition and hydration are essential for good health, there’s no scientific evidence to support the claim that a good meal and warm water will “greatly reduce the discomforts, side effects arising from the injection”.

Incidentally, a 2017 study found that drinking water before vaccination does not prevent post-vaccination presyncope (the feeling that one is about to faint). Drinking water – warm or cold – has no impact on the vaccine.

However, adequate hydration can help reduce discomfort from fever – one of the common side effects of the COVID vaccine. Also, side effects vary from person to person and there may be differences in the way one’s body reacts to the first dose and second dose of the vaccine.

Finally, having a meal before getting the vaccine is a good idea, especially if you are going in for vaccination after your meal time.

The WhatsApp message per se may seem innocuous. What’s worrisome is the ease with which misinformation spreads. “I got this message forwarded in audio format in Malay language by a Chinese person,” says Dr. Ahmad Firdaus, medical officer with the Government of Malaysia, and co-founder of Medical Mythbusters Malaysia. 

At a time when public anxiety is palpable, especially in terms of vaccination, fraudulent social media messages further fuel fear and stress.