Nasal Vaccines – What you need to know

The author of this article is Dr. Swati Rajagopal, Consultant – Infectious Disease & Travel Medicine, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore

As the world once again braces itself for the new wave of Covid-19 virus, nasal vaccines have now offered a sniffing hope to the people. Developed by Bharat Biotech and approved by the Government of India, these vaccines are now formally included as a booster dose in the vaccination program and are available at hospitals, private centres and on the CO-WIN platform. 

What is a nasal vaccine?

A nasal vaccine or a spray for COVID-19 is administered through the nose and aims to restrict or stop the spread of the virus in the mucosal region. This prevents the virus from triggering an immune response from cells and molecules in this region. These vaccines do not require any formal training and the entire procedure is a painless needle-free procedure. Thus, nasal vaccines not only overcome vaccine hesitancy but also remove needle-associated risks. 

How do nasal vaccines work?

Nasal vaccines work on the mucosal lining and prompt an immune response right at the entry points of the virus which are primarily our nose and mouth. These vaccines stimulate immunity by developing and neutralizing IgG, mucosal IgA, and T-cell response. Also referred to as sterling immunity, nasal vaccines have been found to significantly cut down the spread of the virus even in asymptomatic and mild cases. 

What are the side effects of Nasal Vaccines?

Side effects of nasal vaccines include – 

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Running nose
  • Sneezing

These vaccines are not being given to people who are allergic to any of its components, had a severe allergic reaction to it in the past and have acute infection or fever. 

How are these vaccines given to patients?

Currently, nasal vaccines have been approved for people of the age group 18 years and above as booster doses. These vaccines are given as 0.5ml doses (8 drops – 4 drops in each nostril) after 4 weeks of intervals. 

Can you take a nasal vaccine as a 4th booster dose?

CoWIN is currently not accepting nasal vaccines as a fourth dose. Also, regular immunization, and administering them at short intervals can cause ‘antigen skin’ which will limit the body’s ability to respond to the vaccines. This is also the reason why only people who have taken 2 doses of covid-19 vaccine are being given the option of nasal vaccines as a booster dose. 

How can you opt for nasal vaccines and when will they be available? 

While iNCOVACC is available as an option on the CoWIN platform, however, the doses will be rolled out in the fourth week of January 2023. These vaccines will be available near your hospitals and private medical centres. 


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