Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defences – the immune system – to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. After vaccination, if the body is later exposed to those disease-causing germs, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness. Here’s all you need to know about vaccines
Yes, individuals may still be at risk of contracting COVID-19, although the disease will likely be milder in comparison to those who are unvaccinated. More evidence is required to confirm whether COVID-19 vaccines provide protection against asymptomatic or mild disease. Presently it remains unclear whether vaccinated individuals can still spread the disease to others, therefore caution is still required.
The most common side effects include tenderness at the injection site, headache, fever, fatigue, chills or diarrhoea. These side effects range from mild to moderate, and may feel similar to a flu-like illness for a couple of days.
No, the COVID-19 vaccine contains a part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (or an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus).
Presently there is no evidence that a COVID-19 vaccine will provide long term immunity against potential future infection. It is considered a booster to the person’s immune, therefore having oneself vaccinated is beneficial as there is no harmful effect.
It is recommended to wait a month before being vaccinated, although it is not harmful to be vaccinated sooner.
Yes, those with co-morbidities are more susceptible to severe COVID-19 infections and therefore are likely to benefit the most from the vaccines. People with co-morbidities have been included in many COVID-19 vaccine trials, which showed good protection from COVID-19 vaccines against severe disease.
Yes, chronic medication is not a contraindication to vaccination. If you have any concerns, discuss with your health practitioner.
No, it is not advisable to vaccinate individuals who are sick with COVID-19 or any other short-term illnesses, including viral fevers. It is preferable to wait until fully recovered. Should a person have asymptomatic COVID-19, there has been no harm reported from having the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.
Most advisory groups recommend against giving the vaccine to pregnant women or to women who plan to become pregnant within three months. There has, however, been no harm reported from the vaccine given unknowingly during pregnancy.
Most advisory groups recommend against giving the vaccine to breastfeeding women. There has, however, been no harm reported from the vaccine given to women who breastfeed.
Most COVID-19 vaccines, such as the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines are not currently recommended for children under 18 years of age, as data from clinical trials have been collected in adults. Trials are currently underway to collect more information in adolescents and children.
Yes, the flu vaccine protects against infection from influenza viruses, while COVID-19 vaccines protect against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is important to take the flu vaccine to protect oneself from influenza, thereby reducing the burden on the health system. The flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine should be given at least 14 days apart. There is no particular requirement regarding the order of receiving the influenza and COVID-19 vaccine. If both vaccines are available at the same time and an individual is eligible for both, it is recommended to prioritise the COVID-19 vaccine.
Yes, the flu vaccine protects against infection from influenza viruses, whereas the COVID-19 vaccine protects against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine should be given at least 14 days apart. There is no particular requirement regarding the order of receiving the influenza and COVID-19 vaccine. If both vaccines are available at the same time and an individual is eligible for both, it is recommended to prioritise the COVID-19 vaccine.
Research is underway to determine how long vaccine-induced immunity lasts. Researchers are accumulating evidence as to whether vaccine-induced immunity will be long-lived or whether COVID-19 vaccine boosters might be required, similar to influenza vaccines.
Yes, presently it unclear if COVID-19 vaccines provide complete protection from infection with mild COVID-19, allowing the spread the virus. The evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines protect from severe disease, hospitalisation and death. Therefore, until enough evidence has been gathered, individuals should wear masks and adhere to the non- pharmaceutical interventions, including physical and social distancing.
At the moment there is not enough evidence to confidently answer this question. Scientists are monitoring those who have received vaccines in order to answer this question.
All these are mild side effects and indicate the expected immune response to the vaccine. You do not need to take any medication, but if you wish you can take paracetamol.
If you have mild side effects, such as fever, painful injection site, headache or mild flu-like illness you need not report it. However, if an allergic reaction or more severe side-effects presents, please contact your healthcare practitioner and complete the Adverse Events Following Immunisation form
Healthcare workers vaccinated as part of the Sisonke programme can contact the emergency number: 0800 014 956.
At this stage only dedicated healthcare facilities will have access to the vaccine. Individuals have to register on the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) during the phase they are prioritised.
More communication will be issued by the National Department of Health.