A safer future starts with you. The COVID-19 vaccine is our best shot at defeating the Coronavirus together #ourbestshot. We are committed to defending our defenders and protecting our protectors. Please contact your MHR Region should you have any questions or require more information.

MHR DOCUMENTS AND CORRESPONDENCE TO DOWNLOAD

WHY VACCINATION IS SAFE AND IMPORTANT

* Information provided by Mediclinic

Why is vaccination against COVID-19 so important?

Vaccination against COVID-19 dramatically reduces your risk of serious disease or death. By being vaccinated, your body can train itself to identify the virus quickly and to fight against serious infection. By being vaccinated, we are protecting our future health, as COVID-19 infection increases the risk of long term health complications, known as “Long COVID”.

A well respected physician based at a Groote Schuur in Cape Town has recently gone on record to state that his ICU / high care has not seen any vaccinated individuals for care. So in addition to personal protection, the vaccine also allows our healthcare facilities to focus on the seriously ill, without additional numbers from COVID-19 infections.

What should I do if I have concerns about the safety of a vaccine?

We encourage anyone with health concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccine to speak to their GP or specialist about their concerns. This will allow for feedback from a trusted source. Additionally, we recommend that our community only use trusted sources of information regarding COVID-19 and the vaccine. Such sources include WHO, NICD and the CDC as well as your local healthcare providers.

Will the vaccine stop me getting COVID-19?

While the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been proven to reduce the risk of infection, there is still a chance you will be infected. Should this occur, the vaccines have proven to be highly effective at reducing the severity of the disease or the chance of death. So you are likely to be asymptomatic or only experience mild symptoms, should you be infected once vaccinated.

Family members have mentioned the number of complications from vaccines? Is this real, and should I be worried?

The risks were recently explained like this: In South Africa, the current death rate from COVID-19 is approximately 3%. Amongst a million patients being infected with COVID-19, this would mean 30 000 deaths. When we look at the adverse side effects from a vaccine (Johnson & Johnson = 9 and Pfizer = 12 individuals/million), the evidence indicates that only 9 – 12 individuals in a million might experience a serious adverse effect (such as a blood clot, which is not necessarily fatal). These numbers are starkly contrasting. When one considers the risks, one must weigh up the benefits and then make an informed decision. We believe that the benefits of vaccination with a small number of potential side effects far outweigh the serious risk of severe infection or death from COVID-19.

What side effects are likely, when I receive my vaccine?

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that it is not uncommon to feel tiredness, experience a headache and muscle pain, chills, high temperature or nausea following vaccination.

These side effects mean that your body is in the process of building protection against the COVID-19 virus. While it is not unusual to feel anxious about receiving the vaccine, rest assured most side-effects are treatable and last only one to two days.

Have any deaths in South Africa been linked to taking the vaccine?

No deaths have yet been definitively linked to the vaccine. Saphra completed a review of 29 deaths that occurred around the time of the vaccine and none of them were plausibly linked to the vaccine.

Are there potential side effects that can happen years after the vaccine?

No non-live vaccine has ever been shown to have side effects later on. The vaccine leaves the body within 72 hours. The antibodies created by your own immune system are what remains in your body. Side effects are rare and the majority occur within 6 – 8 weeks of vaccination.

Is it safe to receive the vaccine during pregnancy?

Yes. While the early clinical trials excluded pregnant women as an initial caution, it has been proven that the vaccine is safe for pregnant women. There have not been any unexpected pregnancy or infant outcomes observed related to the COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy.

IMPORTANT LINKS

HOW DO I GET MY VACCINE?

Registering for the vaccine on the vaccination portal - EVDS

The National Department of Health (NDoH) has established a registration portal called the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS), where all eligible members of the public can register for the vaccine. At later stages, individuals will be categorised according to their risk (e.g. age and chronic diseases). When you are eligible, you will be directed to the nearest, most appropriate vaccine centre with details of time and date of vaccination. This vaccine code is an important element, so please take this along with you to the relevant vaccination centre.

Other channels of registration include:

  • Send a WhatsApp saying “REGISTER” to 0600 123 456
  • SMS *134*832* followed by your ID number
  • If you do not have an ID number just dial *134*832#

If you have a problem registering or if you have any questions, please contact the COVID-19 Hotline at 0800 029 999 or the COVID-19 WHATSAPP NUMBER: 0600 12 3456 or email evds.hcwselfregistration@health.gov.za.

V4HCW/V4SA Covid-19 Vaccine booking portal

This portal is open to anybody who is registered on EVDS that wants to make a booking at a private vaccination site.Everybody needs to be registered on EVDS

Active vaccination centres per province

New vaccination sites are added across the country on a regular basis. The list of sites is updated daily as new sites are added.

What do you need to bring along to the vaccination centre?

In order to be vaccinated, you will need to bring the following:

  • Proof of identity (e.g. ID/driver's license/passport)
  • Medical aid card
  • Vaccine code (SMS received from the Department of Health)

Vaccination process
Once you arrive at a vaccination centre, you can expect the following steps:

  • STEP 1: COVID-19 screening
  • STEP 2: Eligibility and demographic details check
  • STEP 3: Medical screening
  • STEP 4: Vaccination
  • STEP 5: Observation

Please note the average total time for the vaccination process is about one hour, however, it may be longer during busy periods an specifically if you do not have an appointment.

Can I choose which vaccine to receive?

Both vaccines available in South Africa have been proven to be effective in reducing both serious illness and death from COVID-19. Each of the vaccination centres administers only one type vaccine (this may be Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson) depending on which vaccine has been allocated by the Department of Health to the specific site. Johnson & Johnson is a single dose vaccine, while Pfizer requires two doses.

COVID-19 vaccines: Warnings and possible contra-indications

Please talk to your vaccinator before vaccination if:

  • You have ever had a severe allergic reaction after injection of any vaccine; or
  • You have ever fainted following any injection - WHY? We’ll want to observe you closely after vaccination. Allergy to eggs is not a problem as this vaccine does not contain egg proteins
  • You currently have a high temperature (over 38°C). However, you can have your vaccination if you have a mild fever or an upper airway infection, like a cold - WHY? You should wait until you are not acutely sick before vaccination
  • You have a problem with bleeding or bruising, or if you are taking any blood thinners (to prevent blood clots) - WHY? As with other intramuscular injections, the vaccine should be given with caution in individuals receiving blood thinners or those with low levels of blood platelets or any clotting disorder (such as haemophilia) because bleeding or bruising may occur at the injection site
  • You have immunodeficiency or you are taking medication that weakens the immune system (e.g. high dose corticosteroids, immunosuppressants or cancer medication) - WHY? The efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine has not been assessed in immunocompromised individuals, including those receiving immunosuppressant therapy. The efficacy of vaccine may be lower in immunosuppressed individuals, so you will still need to take care to always adhere to standard safety precautions, like mask wearing and hand hygiene
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding - WHY? Although data is still limited, non-live vaccines (e.g. Covid vaccine) pose no risk to breastfeeding mothers and their babies. Experts advise that pregnant women should be vaccinated due to high risk of complications if infected with COVID-19. Yet, vaccination is a personal choice.
  • If you have received a vaccine (e.g. flu vaccine) in the previous 2 weeks - WHY? You should not have vaccinations within 2 weeks of each other
  • If you had COVID-19 in the past 30 days - WHY? Although experts recommend getting the vaccine even if you’ve had COVID-19, they also suggest waiting about 30 days after your diagnosis and having recovered from COVID-19 before you’re vaccinated or receive your 2nd dosage of vaccine.

FIND THE FACTS AROUND VACCINATION

*Information provided by Mediclinic

Anti-vaccination misinformation focuses on the need for vaccines, how they work, safety, their components, their moral or religious acceptability, as well as their development and testing. The following facts provided by the National Department of Health, and other reliable sources, are vital in addressing anti-vaccination misinformation.

Fact: Vaccines are rigorously tested to ensure that they are safe

Vaccine development is a rigorous process with layers of safety and efficacy reviews before approval for widespread use can be gained. Once vaccines are licensed for use, they are subject to ongoing safety surveillance. Regulators and researchers use passive or active systems to determine whether there is a spike in adverse events following a particular vaccine. This is particularly the case with a new vaccine programme. Testing of Vaccines.

Fact: Claims linking vaccines to autism relied on poor and fraudulent research

One of the most prevalent misinformation theories around vaccines stems from a widely discredited, and since retracted, study published in the Lancet in 1998. The study’s discussion raised questions about whether there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Since then further studies have demonstrated there is no causal link between any vaccine and autism. The Lancet JournalMMR Vaccine Reaction and The Lancet Response.

Fact: Vaccines prevent diseases and do not cause them

One of the rare side effects of vaccines is that they can cause mild symptoms resembling those of the disease they are providing protection against. However, these symptoms are actually the body’s immune system reacting to the vaccine and not the disease itself. How Vaccines Prevent Diseases.

Fact: Vaccines contain chemicals that we encounter every day

Some people worry that the ingredients contained in a vaccine, such as mercury, aluminium, and formaldehyde, are harmful due to their perceived toxicity. In high concentrations, these chemicals are indeed toxic, but only trace amounts are used in vaccines. Vaccine Chemical Safety Facts.

Fact: Vaccines can help where the body’s natural immunity cannot

Some diseases can allow natural immunity to develop without vaccination. However, this exposes the body to dangerous risks that vaccinations do not. For example, to get immunity to measles you must first have the measles. Unfortunately, complications from measles include pneumonia, brain swelling and even death in 1 in 1000 cases. Vaccines provide a safe way to build immunity without the damaging and potentially fatal impacts of contracting a preventable disease.

OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS TO DOWNLOAD

OTHER SITES TO EXPLORE