But he is not just a medical professional whose inoculation inspires public confidence: the 47-year-old has undergone kidney transplant twice and says the related comorbidities he suffers from didn’t stop him.
Dr AP Nirmal Raj while taking the shot
“As a dentist, there is risk of Covid infection as we deal with saliva and aerosols during dental procedures and hence it is better to be protected,” said Nirmal.
“In addition, with me being a kidney recipient twice, and on immunosuppressant medication, I’m even more vulnerable. I consulted doctors and they said the Covid vaccine does not interfere with the drugs that I am on. Covid is here to stay as long as we live and hence the vaccine is a necessity.”
Went ahead after consultation with experts, no side-effects so far: Doc
Nirmal heads the department of prosthodontics at Theerthankar Mahaveer Dental College and Research Centre in Moradabad. He took the vaccine on January 16, the day the nationwide drive was launched.
Nirmal underwent the first kidney transplant in 2008 and his mother was the donor. In 2014, symptoms of renal failure resurfaced. From 2015 to 2018, he was on dialysis and in March 2018, he underwent kidney transplant for the second time, through a cadaver donor. Both transplants were done in Bengaluru.
Like all others, Nirmal admits, he too initially had doubts about taking the vaccine. He approached his brother, a specialist in infectious diseases working in the US, who has recovered from Covid. He also consulted his nephrologist, Dr Sankaran Sundar, from Bengaluru. “I went ahead with the vaccination after thorough consultation with experts in the field. The vaccine does not interfere with the medicines renal patients like me take and does not aggravate comorbidities,” said Nirmal, adding that he has not experienced any side-effects so far.
Nirmal’s talk post-vaccination is now getting traction on social media pages. “Dr Nirmal taking the vaccine is an encouragement for many,” said Dr Sundar.
Nirmal pointed out that the perception among kidney patients and organ recipients who have not been infected is that they are safe and it is better without the vaccine. “During the lockdown, when several parts of India reported increasing Covid cases, everyone was at home. But now, everyone is out for work or studies. That’s why there is a need to take the vaccine and be safe,” he explained.
Most dialysis patients are on heparin, an anticoagulatory drug, and caution needs to be taken, said Dr Sundar.
He pointed out he took the Covid vaccine on January 17. “I’m taking anti-diabetic, cholesterol drugs and have undergone angioplasty earlier. People with comorbidities must not fear the vaccine,” he said.
“Heparin must be avoided a day prior to the vaccination, on day of vaccination and a day after that. Those who are on heparin should avoid intramuscular injection on the days of dialysis, not just Covid vaccine. Any kidney patient must consult their doctor before going for Covid vaccination,” said nephrologist Dr Sankaran Sundar.