EVDS Self Registration Portal

Vaccine Registration Portal is now open!
VIEW MORE

Active Vaccination Sites

Find your closest vaccination site
VIEW MORE

Latest Vaccine Statistics

View latest vaccine rollout figures & statistics
VIEW MORE

Interactive Live Counter

Interact with our live Covid-19 data map
VIEW MORE
0800 029 999 – Covid-19 Toll-Free Helpline
Send a Whatsapp with the word “REGISTER” to 0600 123 456

Vaccine Types & Key Information

Vaccination is a simple, safe, and effective way to protect people against harmful diseases, before they come into contact with them. It uses your body’s natural defences to build resistance to specific infections and makes your immune system stronger.

Vaccines train your immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when it is exposed to a disease.

When you get a vaccine, your immune system responds. It:

  • recognises the invading germ, such as the virus or bacteria
  • produces antibodies. Antibodies are proteins produced naturally by the immune system to fight disease
  • remembers the disease and how to fight it.

If you are then exposed to the germ in the future, your immune system can quickly destroy it before you become unwell.

However, because vaccines contain only killed or weakened forms of germs like viruses or bacteria, they do not cause the disease or put you at risk of its complications.

Scientists around the world are developing many potential vaccines for COVID-19. These vaccines are all designed to teach the body’s immune system to safely recognise and block the virus that causes COVID-19.

Several different types of potential vaccines for COVID-19 are in development, including:

  • Inactivated or weakened virus vaccines, which use a form of the virus that has been inactivated or weakened so it does not cause disease, but still generates an immune response.
  • Protein-based vaccines, which use harmless fragments of proteins or protein shells that mimic the COVID-19 virus to safely generate an immune response.
  • Viral vector vaccines, which use a safe virus that cannot cause disease but serves as a platform to produce coronavirus proteins to generate an immune response.
  • RNA and DNA vaccines, a cutting-edge approach that uses genetically engineered RNA or DNA to generate a protein that itself safely prompts an immune response.

Vaccines for different diseases can be administered in different ways. All the COVID-19 vaccines are given through an injection in the arm.

COVID-19 vaccines protect you from severe illness and death from the virus by helping the body develop immunity. They may also help reduce the spread of the virus between people, so one person’s choice to get vaccinated could save many more lives.

COVID-19 vaccines are a key tool in ending the pandemic and getting societies back to normal. Mass vaccination campaigns should also help reduce the pressure on health workers and hospitals, allowing them to attend to patients with other conditions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available to you.

Two key reasons to get vaccinated are to protect ourselves and to protect those around us. Because not everyone can be vaccinated – including very young babies, those who are seriously ill or have certain allergies – they depend on others being vaccinated to ensure they are also safe from vaccine-preventable diseases.

When a person gets vaccinated against a disease, their risk of infection is also reduced – so they are far less likely to spread the disease to others. As more people in a community get vaccinated, fewer people remain vulnerable, and there is less possibility for passing the germ on from person to person. Lowering the possibility for a germ to circulate in the community protects those who cannot be vaccinated due to other serious health conditions. This is called “herd immunity.”

“Herd immunity” exists when a high percentage of the population is vaccinated, making it difficult for infectious diseases to spread, because there are not many people who can be infected. But herd immunity only works if most people are vaccinated.

Yes. There are strict protections in place to help ensure the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines.

Before receiving authorisation from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), COVID-19 vaccines undergo rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed standards for safety and efficacy.

Hundreds of millions of vaccine doses have been administered globally and millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.

As with all vaccines, the WHO and SAHPRA will continuously monitor their use to confirm that they remain safe for all who receive them.

The Department of Health will work with the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to ensure that whichever vaccine we use has met all the regulatory requirements of safety, efficacy, and quality.

Yes. Before a vaccine can be rolled out the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) must assess the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine. SAHPRA has committed to ensuring the expeditious evaluation of these vaccines once they have been received, through various mechanisms that will shorten the timeframe it usually takes to approve a product.

Yes. The World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL) is the golden standard to confirm the quality, safety and efficacy of vaccines used during the pandemic. So far, four COVID-19 vaccines have received WHO Emergency Use Listing – the Pfizer, the Sinovac, the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. South Africa chose to use the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines for now, because they are most effective against the variants of the virus that we have. However, are now starting to plan the roll out for Sinovac.

Other vaccines that are being reviewed by the WHO EUL are Novavax and Moderna. South Africa is also in negotiations to purchase some of these.

Yes. Vaccine development and clinical trials are a key research priority for COVID-19 in Africa. Voluntary clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines are so far taking place in Kenya and South Africa. Testing vaccines in Africa ensures that data is generated on the safety and efficacy of promising vaccines for the African population.

These are not the first vaccines to be tested in Africa, with vaccines like the conjugate meningitis A and Ebola vaccines being tested on the continent before rollout.

All clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines are voluntary. Hundreds of thousands of people have been involved in clinical trials around the world, which has provided crucial data to help make sure that COVID-19 vaccines work.

No, clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines have not been rushed.

Given the urgent need for COVID-19 vaccines, unprecedented investment and scientific collaboration is changing how vaccines are developed. Some steps in the research and development process for COVID-19 vaccines have taken place in parallel, while still maintaining strict clinical and safety standards. For example, some clinical trials are evaluating multiple vaccines at the same time, but this does not make the studies any less rigorous than normal.

Like any vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild side effects, such as a low-grade fever or pain or redness at the injection site. Most reactions to vaccines are mild and go away within a few days on their own. More serious or long-lasting side effects to vaccines are possible but extremely rare. Vaccines are continually monitored to detect rare adverse events.

Reported side effects to COVID-19 vaccines have mostly been mild to moderate and short-lasting. They include: fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, diarrhoea, and pain at the injection site.

There have been reports of severe allergic reactions in a small number of people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. A severe allergic reaction – such as anaphylaxis – is a potential but rare side effect with any vaccine. In persons with a known risk, such as previous experience of an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine or any of the known components in the vaccine, precautions may need to be taken.

If you have previously had an allergic reaction to vaccines or other medicine, you should consult your healthcare provider before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

All healthcare workers providing vaccines are trained to recognise severe allergic reactions and take practical steps to treat such reactions if they occur.

COVID-19 vaccine use will be closely monitored by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) and international bodies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), to detect serious side effects, including any unexpected side effects. This will help us better understand and manage the specific risks of allergic reactions or other serious side effects to COVID-19 vaccines that may not have been detected during clinical trials, ensuring safe vaccination for all.

Your healthcare provider can best advise on whether or not you should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, based on available evidence, people with the following health conditions should generally be excluded from COVID-19 vaccination in order to avoid possible adverse effects:

  • If you have a history of severe allergic reactions to any ingredients of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If you are currently sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, though you can get vaccinated once your primary symptoms have resolved.

Based on what we know about these vaccines, there is no specific reason to believe there will be risks that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women. While pregnancy puts women at higher risk of severe COVID-19, very little data are available to assess vaccine safety in pregnancy.

For this reason, it is advised that vaccines are offered to all pregnant and breastfeeding women who are eligible (e.g. healthcare workers) and who have completed 14 weeks of gestation.

It is not yet clear whether COVID-19 vaccines can be excreted through breastfeeding. To determine the best course of action, the developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for vaccination against COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend discontinuing breastfeeding after vaccination.

Studies are still underway, but so far it seems that children 16 years and over can be vaccinated safely.

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine technology has been rigorously assessed for safety, and clinical trials have shown that mRNA vaccines provide a long-lasting immune response. mRNA vaccine technology has been studied for several decades, including for Zika, rabies, and influenza vaccines. mRNA vaccines are not live virus vaccines and do not interfere with human DNA.

If you have a chronic condition or are on medication, contact your doctor to discuss vaccination. If you do not have your own doctor you can also contact 0800 029 999 during office hours and select option 3. There will be doctors available to discuss the issue with you.

If you have a pre-existing condition or are on medication, contact your doctor to discuss vaccination. If you do not have your own doctor you can also contact 0800 029 999 during office hours and select option 3. There will be doctors available to discuss the issue with you.

Yes, you should be vaccinated even if you have had COVID-19 as the vaccine will boost immunity to the virus.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must finish your quarantine period and then wait a further 30 days before you can be vaccinated. If you are feeling unwell but have not tested positive for COVID-19 you must not come to the vaccination site and should instead wait for a follow-up appointment, which will be automatically scheduled by the EVDS. This is to protect your health.

You must not vaccinate when you are sick and you cannot be cured of COVID-19 by vaccinating. Instead, if you have COVID-19 you must do your 10 days of isolation and then wait a further 30 days before getting vaccinated. If you are feeling unwell but have not tested positive for COVID-19 you must not come to the vaccination site and should instead wait for a follow-up appointment, which will be automatically scheduled by the EVDS. This is to protect your health.

Please give yourself 14 days between the two vaccines. This is to protect your health.

You can get vaccinated 30 days after you have completed your 10 day isolation period for COVID-19.

Yes. Data from clinical trials and now data coming from use in real life settings is showing that COVID-19 vaccines authorised for use are highly effective in protecting against severe illness and death from COVID-19.

It usually takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to develop immunity, so it is possible that you could be infected just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection. Similarly, if you are exposed to COVID-19, even if you have had the vaccine, you may still catch it. The biggest advantage of the vaccine is that it makes it very unlikely that you would get very sick or end up in hospital if you did get COVID-19 – it does not stop you catching it altogether. People should therefore continue using proven safety measures like regular hand-cleaning, using masks and practicing social distancing to reduce transmission of the virus.

COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing severe disease and death, yet because these vaccines have only been developed in recent months it is still too early to know the exact duration of the protection they provide. Research is ongoing to answer this question and to determine whether a booster will be needed. Both Pfizer and J&J vaccines have demonstrated good immune responses lasting 6 to 8 months after vaccination. However it is still early in the vaccination roll-out and it’s possible immunity lasts much longer.

This is still unknown, but is likely, especially as new variants develop

It is not recommended to have an antibody test to see if you have developed immunity from the vaccine.

Evidence is limited on how the new COVID-19 variants will affect how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. The Department of Health has systems in place to monitor how common these variants are and to look for the emergence of new variants. The Department of Health will continue to monitor variants to see if they have any impact on how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions and to choose the best vaccines for our situation.

Yes. Large-scale clinical studies found that COVID-19 vaccination prevented most people from getting COVID-19. More significantly, however, based on data from these clinical studies, the COVID-19 vaccine will keep you from getting seriously ill, even if you do get COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends you get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available to you.

The impact of COVID-19 vaccines on the pandemic will depend on several factors.  These include factors such as the effectiveness of the vaccines; how quickly they are approved, manufactured, and delivered; and how many people get vaccinated.

The CDC guidance is that you are considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the J&J vaccine, or two weeks after the SECOND dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The following vaccines have been approved for use in South Africa by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA):

  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Pfizer
  • Sinovac
  • AstraZeneca
Vaccine brand name Who can get this vaccine? How many shots do you need? When are you fully vaccinated?
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen People 18 years and older One shot Two weeks after your shot
Pfizer – BioNTech People 16 years and older Two shots given six weeks (42 days) apart Two weeks after your second shot
Sinovac People 18 years and older Two shots given two to four weeks apart Two weeks after your second shot
AstraZeneca People 18 years and older Two shots given eight to 12 weeks apart Two weeks after your second shot
The Government of South Africa has decided not to make use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for now, since it proved less effective against the predominant variant of the virus in South Africa. This decision can be revised when new information becomes available. 

The best COVID-19 vaccine is the first one that is available to you. Do not wait for a specific brand. All the vaccines that are authorised for use are safe, effective and reduce your risk of severe illness.

The J&J vaccine is 66.3% protective against moderate to severe COVID-19 infections, from 28 days after injection (with variability based on geographic locations).

From the reported studies, once fully vaccinated (2 weeks after second dose) there is an efficacy of 95% in preventing symptomatic COVID infection.

Originally, the time between the first and second doses was set at 21 days (3 weeks).  However, the Health Minister announced that the interval between doses will be extended to 42 days (6 weeks).

In the immediate couple of weeks after the first vaccine dose, there is very little immunity. You need to be particularly cautious during this time. From about two weeks after the first dose, some immunity starts to develop. A recent study showed that a single dose of Pfizer was 80% effective at preventing hospital admission with COVID-19 and a single dose was 85% effective at preventing death. It is unknown how long this immunity lasts though. It is crucial to get the second dose of Pfizer in order to develop a robust immunity that will persist.

The Regulatory Authorities (including the FDA and SAHPRA) have approved 300,000 J&J vaccines that were not affected by the contamination issue to be sent urgently to South Africa to vaccinate our teachers and school staff and make sure they are kept safe. There are no safety concerns about these 300,000 J&J vaccines.

Vaccine Strategy

The South Africa Government will source, distribute, and oversee the roll-out of the vaccines. As the sole purchaser of vaccines, the government will distribute it to provincial governments and the private sector.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that those most at risk of severe illness, death and exposure to COVID-19 get vaccinated first. These include frontline health workers (especially those providing COVID-19 patient care), older people and those living with other diseases, or existing conditions including hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV or cancer.

The vaccine will be rolled out in a three-phase approach, that begins with the most vulnerable in our population.

Phase 1: The country’s estimated 1.2 million frontline healthcare workers.

Phase 2: Essential workers, persons in congregate settings and persons over 50 years.

Phase 3: The final phase will target 22,5 million members of the population over the age of 18 years.

The target is to vaccinate 67 per cent of the population by the end of 2021, in order to achieve herd immunity.

Comorbidities are no longer used as a category to prioritise vaccinations. This is because research has shown that age is the strongest predictor of how likely someone is to end up in hospital or die of COVID. Age is therefore a considerably more reliable indicator to use for prioritisation.

The vaccine rollout is continuing at a reasonable speed with the Pfizer vaccine. The fact that we will not receive the J&J vaccines, as planned, will slow the process down, but the National Department of Health is committed to using the Pfizer vaccines to ensure that we vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.  We will overcome these issues, and to date, millions of South Africans have been vaccinated at hundreds of sites across our country. Our best advice for everyone at the moment is to stay safe and follow the COVID-19 prevention methods as before.

In Phase 2 the following people can get vaccinated:

  • Essential workers, e.g. South African Police Service, Correctional Services, etc.
  • People in congregate settings, e.g. prisons, old age homes, mental health facilities, etc.
  • People over fifty years of age
  • People between the ages of 35 and 49 can register on the EVDS from the 15th of July and vaccinations will start to be administered to this age group from the 1st of August.

After the 50-59 years olds, the next group will be the 35-49 year olds. This second group can register on EVDS from the 15th of July and vaccinations will start to be administered to them from the 1st of August.

The National Department of Health is working with key departments on vaccination ‘projects’ for essential services sectors. These vaccination ‘projects’ include:

  • Basic Education Sector
  • Department of Defence and Military Veterans
  • South African Police Service
  • Department of Correctional Services
  • Social Development Sector (including ECD/SASSA)
  • Department of Home Affairs
  • Department of Justice
  • National Prosecuting Authority
  • Public agencies

How to Get Vaccinated

Yes. If you qualify to be vaccinated in Phase 2 of the vaccine roll-out, you will have to register on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) of the Department of Health.

If you qualify to be vaccinated in phase 2 of the vaccine roll-out, you can register on the Department of Health Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) in one of four ways. You can register:

  • on the website
  • using WhatsApp, or
  • on your phone using USSD, or
  • or by calling 0800 029 999

To register on the website

  • First make sure you have internet access.
  • You will need a smartphone, a tablet or a computer.
  • Connect to the internet and go to https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za
  • The welcome screen will tell you what to do next.
  • Follow the instructions. Put in all the details the system asks for.
  • When you are finished the system will send an SMS to the phone number you provided. This SMS will tell you that you are registered. This means that the system now has you in the queue.
  • When it is your turn to be vaccinated, the system will send you another SMS with a date and the venue for your vaccination. If you put in the correct address, you will be sent to the vaccination centre that is closest to your home.

To register on WhatsApp

  • You need a cell phone with WhatsApp installed.
  • Click on this link http://wa.me/27600123456?text=register  or send a message with the word REGISTER to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp.
  • You will receive a message explaining how registration works. Answer the questions by replying with the number next to the appropriate option for you or you can type an answer when asked to do so. Follow the instructions carefully.
  • When you are finished, you will get a confirmation message that tells you that you are registered. This means that you are now in the queue to get vaccinated.
  • When it is your turn to be vaccinated, you will get an SMS with a date and the venue for your vaccination. If you put in the correct address, you will be sent to the vaccination centre closest to your home.

To register on USSD

  • You can use any cell phone.
  • USSD registration is free on all networks.
  • Dial *134*832# or if you are an SA citizen you can skip some questions by dialling *134*832* followed by your ID number (with no spaces) and then #. (For example *134*832*6101012222082#)
  • You will be asked a number of questions. Answer each question by replying with the number of the option you have chosen, or you can type an answer when asked to do so. Follow the instructions carefully.
  • When you are finished, you will get a confirmation message that tells you that you are registered. This means that you are now in the queue to get vaccinated.
  • When it is your turn to be vaccinated, you will get an SMS with a date and the venue for your vaccination. If you put in the correct address, you will be sent to the vaccination centre that is closest to your home.

The EVDS will automatically calculate age from a person’s ID number and will tell them that they are too young to get vaccinated right now. The vaccination rollout uses age, rather than comorbidities to determine when you will get vaccinated. The Minister of Health has announced that the next group (35-49 year olds) can register on EVDS from the 15th of July and vaccination will start for this group from the 1st of August. Studies have shown that age is an even stronger predictor than comorbidities of whether or not you will end up in hospital or die because of COVID-19.

Yes you can. Just follow the same steps as you would for yourself but enter their information.

Yes you can. Just follow the same steps as you would for yourself but enter their information. You can do this multiple times.

Just dial the number again and you will be able to choose whether you want to start the registration again or you want to start again where you left off. Select whichever option is most appropriate for you.

When asked to provide details for your registration, the VACCINE REGISTRATION SECURE CHAT gives you 5 minutes to respond before ending the session. If you have taken too long to respond you will need to restart the registration process by typing the word REGISTER into the WhatsApp chat window.

If you cannot find the location you are looking for when registering, please try an adjacent suburb.

You can check by starting the registration process again. Upon entering your ID, the system will respond to say whether you have been registered or not.

The health department is working on a system that will allow people without identity documents to get vaccinated, as South Africa also has thousands of undocumented migrants and also people in prison and mental health institutions without identity documents. Details of this system have, however, not yet been announced and will only be available from Phase 3.

Every person in SA regardless of nationality or status can get vaccinated.

You will need to go through the registration process again. This will work if you have not yet received your scheduling SMS. Otherwise you can log a ‘requested change’ with the EVDS support desk at hissupport@dhmis.org

https://sacoronavirus.co.za/evds/support/

Your SMS may take up to 24 hours to arrive. If you are concerned, you can check if you are registered by starting the process again and seeing if your ID is recorded in the system. If it is not then your registration has not gone through again and you should try again. This usually occurs when the registration process has not been fully completed.

If you have previously registered you do not need to re-register. You only need to re-register if you have missed three appointments. Contact 0800 029 999 during office hours for online assistance with this.

The EVDS SMS notifications include:

  1. Confirmation of successful EVDS registration
  2. Confirmation of appointment – confirmation of date, place and vaccination site
  3. On-site confirmation of vaccination including proof of vaccination code
  4. Second dose SMS scheduling confirmation of date, place and vaccination site
  5. SMS regarding self-monitoring and reporting of adverse events

After registering on the EVDS you should receive an SMS confirming that you are registered and in the queue to be scheduled for your vaccine. If you have not received this SMS, please go back to vaccine.enrol.health.gov.za to verify if your submission has indeed gone through by entering your ID number.

Second doses are auto-scheduled for 42 days after your first dose has been administered. You will receive an SMS telling you when and where to go for your second vaccination.

If you do not have your details either wait until these are available, or select NO MEDICAL AID and proceed with registration.

No, by registering on Discovery’s COVID-19 Vaccination Portal you will automatically be registered on the national Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) to make the process easier for you. All South Africans, who are not Discovery clients, must register on the national Electronic Vaccination Data System directly.

Some medical schemes will also ask you to register on their system so that they can send you information about vaccinations. You will, however, still need to register on the EVDS. It is the only way to book an appointment, regardless of whether you are vaccinated at a public or private site, or have medical insurance. The only exception to this is Discovery. If you are a Discovery client and have registered on their system, you will automatically be registered on the EVDS.

Medical aids have to follow the rules of the national vaccine rollout as set out by the Department of Health. Medical aids are only allowed to vaccinate a certain age group as announced by the Department of Health. The EVDS will ask the client if they have a medical aid. If they do, they will need to enter the name of the scheme and also their medical aid number. The system will try to send medical aid members to private sites (if there is one in their area) but they may be invited to a public site.

The EVDS will ask you if you have a medical aid. If you do, you will need to enter the name of the scheme and also your medical aid number.  Some medical schemes will also ask you to register on a separate system, so that they can send you information about vaccines. You will, however, still need to register on the EVDS, as it’s the only way to book an appointment, regardless of whether you’re vaccinated at a public or private site, or have medical insurance. The only exception to this is Discovery. When you register on their system you are automatically registered on the EVDS as well.

Your medical aid has to follow the rules of the roll-out, so they’re only allowed to vaccinate a certain age group once the health department has announced that the age group has become eligible for vaccination. A medical scheme can, for instance, not vaccinate people of 40 and older if the health department has determined that only people of 50 and older can be vaccinated at that time.

Please do not worry. Everyone who has been registered and received the confirmation SMS will get the SMS to advise when to go for vaccination. How quickly you receive the SMS depends on how many vaccine sites there are in your area, so some people may receive an SMS before you, but you will receive yours! Please exercise patience. We will not leave anyone behind in our nation’s vaccination drive.

The EVDS applies the same rules to everyone in both the private and the public sector. Appointments also depend on the number of vaccination site in your area. For example, if you live in an area where there are several vaccination sites, you will receive an SMS quicker than someone who resides in an area where there are currently few sites. The time it takes also depends on the time slot you have chosen such as morning or afternoon on weekdays or weekends. Finally, our Healthcare Workers continue to be vaccinated and receive priority to ensure they can safely support our fight against COVID-19. This all affects when you will receive your SMS.

There is no set time for how long this will take, because it depends on how many active vaccination sites there are in the area where you live. If you live in a town where there are several sites, you’ll receive an SMS quicker than someone who resides in a part of the country where there are currently few or no sites. As more vaccination sites are being opened every week, more appointments slots will become available. You will be notified of an appointment as soon as possible.

Only the person who received the SMS can get vaccinated. You will have to wait for your SMS, or see if the vaccination site has capacity on the day to vaccinate you as a walk-in. However, there are no guarantees that walk-ins will be accepted at any site.

Call the COVID helpline on 0800 029 999 and ask them for assistance. They will be able to resend the message through to you. The COVID  helpline number is toll-free from both a landline and cellphone.

The appointment SMS will include the NAME of the client, so you will be able to identify which SMS is for which person registered.

Once you have missed your appointment, you will be automatically rescheduled for another one. You will be given three opportunities to attend for vaccination –  the original appointment plus TWO more appointments. If you have not been able to attend any of the scheduled appointments, you will have to call the COVID helpline on 0800 029 999 and ask them to re-register you. Your record of registration remains in the system but after these three opportunities the system will wait for you to make contact. The COVID  helpline number is toll-free from both a landline and cellphone.

Unfortunately, as we are trying to maximise the use of available vaccine there may not be much advanced warning for vaccination appointments. However, if you can’t attend the appointment at such short notice, and have to miss it, the system will reschedule the appointment for you. You will be given three opportunities to attend for vaccination –  the original appointment plus TWO more appointments. If you have not been able to attend any of the scheduled appointments, you will have to call the COVID helpline on 0800 029 999 and ask them to re-register you. Your record of registration remains in the system but after these three opportunities the system will wait for you to make contact. The COVID  helpline number is toll-free from both a landline and cellphone.

There is no need for you to re-register. The system will automatically reschedule you and send out a new SMS when there is another available appointment for you. You will be given three opportunities to attend for vaccination –  the original appointment plus TWO more appointments. If you have not been able to attend the scheduled appointments, you will have to call the COVID helpline on 0800 029 999 and ask them to re-register you. Your record of registration remains in the system but after these three opportunities the system will wait for you to make contact. The COVID  helpline number is toll-free from both a landline and cellphone.

There is no need for you to re-register. The system will automatically reschedule you and send out a new SMS when there is another available appointment for you.

You are allowed to walk into a vaccination site. However, if you walk in without an appointment it is not guaranteed that you will be vaccinated. Vaccination sites can assist to register persons 50 years and older on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS). Registering online in advance and being allocated an appointment slot is the best way to ensure you receive your vaccine.

The location of vaccination sites is updated all the time. When registering, you will be prompted to indicate the area where you stay and when it is time to vaccinate you will be directed to the nearest vaccination site. The list can also be found at https://sacoronavirus.co.za/active-vaccination-sites

You can update your own address, but not choose your vaccination site location. You will then be allocated to a vaccination site in your area. However, if you update your address after receiving the SMS with your appointment, your scheduled site will not change.

Please call the COVID helpline on 0800 029 999 and ask them for assistance. The COVID  helpline number is toll-free from both a landline and cellphone. When you call the helpline you will be asked to press “1” for general COVID-related health information (don’t choose this option) and “2” for help to register for a vaccination (choose this option).

Please call the COVID helpline on 0800 029 999 and ask them for assistance. The COVID  helpline number is toll-free from both a landline and cellphone.

We apologise for the inconvenience but please do not worry, as you will receive another scheduled appointment in due course. However, we do ask that you please call the COVID helpline on 0800 029 999 to report the issue. The COVID  helpline number is toll-free from both a landline and cellphone.

If you miss your appointment at this venue your appointment will be rescheduled. As more vaccine sites are opening all the time, it is likely that when you are rescheduled you will be sent to a different vaccination site. There is no set time, however, for how long it will take to get your next appointment, because it depends on how many active vaccination sites there are in the area where you live. If you live in a town where there are several sites, you’ll receive an SMS quicker than someone who resides in a part of the country where there are currently few or no sites.

We encourage all those who have received an appointment notification go to their allocated vaccination site. This guarantees that you will be vaccinated during your appointment as a vaccine dose has already been allocated for you. Our vaccine distribution is carefully planned. We are matching supply and demand of vaccines to ensure that there are sufficient doses on any given day. Visiting an allocated site also allows us to conduct our vaccination drive in an orderly fashion. This prevents people congregating and creating “mass events” at one site, which then poses the threat of COVID spreading at vaccination sites.

The system will automatically allocate a site to you that is close to the home or work address that you entered. In urban areas, it will allocate a site within 10km of that address and in rural areas it will allocate  a centre within 30km of where you live or work. The time that you choose to be vaccinated when you registered such as the morning or afternoon during weekdays or weekends affects the availability and scheduling of your appointment.

If you have medical aid you should ideally go to the site where you are scheduled, or a nearby private site if they have spare capacity for walk-in clients.

If you do not have medical aid you should attend the site where you are scheduled, which may be a public or private site, or a nearby private site if they have spare capacity for walk-in clients.

On the day you get vaccinated, remember to take:

  • your cell phone with the code you received through an SMS
  • your ID document or driver’s license or passport (for non-RSA citizens)
  • your medical aid information (if you have medical aid)
  • proof of employment (e.g. access card) for health care workers
  • If you have been prescribed chronic medication by a medical practitioner, take these as you usually would. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are concerned.
  • Do not take over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen, aspirin or antihistamines to prevent side-effects. It is not known how these medications might affect how well the vaccine works.
  • If you have recently received another vaccine (e.g. the flu vaccine), wait 14 days before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete all the steps required, including being monitored after vaccination on site for at least 20 minutes.
  • When you get to the vaccination site, remember to practice all the usual COVID-19 prevention methods such as wearing a mask, keeping a distance of more than 1.5 metres from other people and regularly washing or sanitising your hands.

No. If you have a medical aid, it will fully cover the vaccination. If you do not have a medical aid, the cost of the vaccine will be covered by government.

No. You will be requested to wait in a designated area for approximately 15 minutes to make sure you do not have any adverse effects from the vaccine.

At the moment we are only vaccinating Healthcare Workers and over 50s. If you do not fall into any of these categories then you can ignore the SMS and wait for your turn (age group) to become available. If you are a Healthcare Worker you will need to have proof of employment before a vaccine can be administered to you. If you believe you are eligible for the vaccine but were turned away, please contact the COVID helpline on 0800 029 999 to report the issue and ask for assistance. The COVID  helpline number is toll-free from both a landline and cellphone.

In short, the EVDS will automatically reschedule you for the next appointment and send you an SMS with a date. How soon you will receive an SMS for a new appointment depends on how many vaccination centres there are in the area where you live (in other words, how soon an opening becomes available).

Ultimately, the EVDS has an algorithm that will detect if you missed an appointment or didn’t receive your vaccination and then reschedule you. You will be given three appointments –  the original appointment plus TWO more appointments. If you have not been able to attend any of the scheduled appointments, you will have to call the COVID helpline on 0800 029 999 and ask them to re-register you. Your record of registration remains in the system but after these three opportunities the system will wait for you to make contact. The COVID  helpline number is toll-free from both a landline and cellphone.

Yes. You will receive an SMS with an electronic certificate as proof of vaccination.

You may have some side-effects, which are normal signs that your body is building protection. Common side-effects are pain, redness and swelling on the arm where you got the shot as well as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. These side-effects should go away in a few days.

If you think you may be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccine site, seek medical care immediately.

  • You can take over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, aspirin or antihistamines to relieve post-vaccination side-effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally. (Do not take these medications before vaccination to prevent side-effects).
  • To reduce pain and discomfort on the arm where you got the shot, apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area. Use or exercise the arm.
  • To reduce discomfort from fever, drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.

In most cases, discomfort from pain or fever is a normal sign that your body is building protection. Contact your healthcare provider:

  • if the redness or tenderness where you got the shot gets worse after 24 hours
  • if your side effects do not go away after a few days

If you are unwell and concerned you must immediately visit your nearest healthcare facility or contact your healthcare practitioner. To report the event or get advice if the event is mild, you can call the Call Centre or report the event in the MedSafety app (https://medsafety.sahpra.org.za).

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has launched a free mobile-based application (Med Safety App) that allows individuals to report any adverse side effects to several medicines and therapies, including the COVID-19 vaccines. You can access this at:  https://medsafety.sahpra.org.za/ 

Even after you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions in public places like wearing a mask, staying 1.5 metres apart from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing your hands often.

Right now, experts do not know how long the vaccine will protect you, so it is a good idea to continue following the prevention measures. We also know not everyone will be able to get vaccinated right away, so it is still important to protect yourself and others.

Yes. After you have been vaccinated, you will receive an SMS to inform you if you need a second shot and the date and place where you should get it.

You will automatically be invited by the EVDS system via SMS for your second dose of vaccine 42 days after your first dose. The SMS will include the appointment details that you need for the second dose. You will not be able to receive your second dose sooner than 42 days after your first dose. It is important that you do not wait more than 84 days after your first dose for your second dose. This is as per guidance from the World Health Organization.

There is no need for you to re-register, the EVDS system will automatically schedule you for your 2nd dose (42 days after your first dose) and you will receive an SMS sending you to the site that has the shortest queue within your registered area.

No. After 42 days you will receive your SMS telling you where and when to go for your appointment. This is to allow us to ensure that there is a vaccine waiting there for you. Your 2nd dose appointment may not be where your first appointment was as the programme is constantly growing and there are many new sites. If you have not received your SMS after 42 days, bring your vaccination card and visit a nearby site to receive your second dose.

Not necessarily. Your 2nd dose appointment may not be where your first appointment was as the programme is constantly growing and there are many new sites. You will instead receive an SMS sending you to the site that has the shortest queue within your registered area.

Even after you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions in public places like wearing a mask, staying 1.5 metres apart from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing your hands often.

Right now, experts do not know how long the vaccine will protect you, so it is a good idea to continue following the prevention measures. Similarly, whilst the vaccine offers around 85% protection from contracting COVID-19, it does not give 100% protection so being safe is vital to protect your own health. We also know that not everyone will be able to get vaccinated right away, so it is still important to protect yourself and others.

The 2nd dose appointment is critical for your protection from COVID-19. Therefore, it is important for you to go and receive your 2nd dose to complete the treatment process and ensure that you are fully vaccinated against severe COVID-19 infection.

It is recommended that you get your second dose within 84 days of your first dose. However, if this isn’t possible for some reason, you should still get your second dose as soon as you can to give you better long term protection against the virus. Depending on how long the delay is and which vaccine you had, we don’t necessarily have the data to say how the delay will affect your protection, but getting it as soon as you can is the best approach.

Once you have missed your second dose appointment, you will be automatically rescheduled for another one. You will be given three opportunities to attend for vaccination –  the original appointment plus TWO more appointments. If you have not been able to attend any of the scheduled appointments, you will have to call the COVID helpline on 0800 029 999 and ask them to re-register you. The COVID helpline number is toll-free from both a landline and cellphone.

For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, side effects tend to be stronger with the second dose. The types of side effects are the same and should still only last a day or two. They include pain or discomfort in the arm where you had the injection, headaches and feeling tired or feverish.

Not everyone gets side effects from the Pfizer vaccine. Research shows that for those who do experience side effects from the second dose, these side effects are usually gone within one or two days. Serious side effects are very rare.

If you have a positive COVID-19 test, you should wait 30 days after the positive test before having your second dose. You can rebook bythrough calling the COVID-19 helpline. Even if you have already had coronavirus, having two doses of the vaccine will ensure that you have long-lasting protection against the virus, and will help to protect you against variants of the virus such as the Delta variant. It is therefore important that you still get your second dose.

No. You can choose to have it in the same arm or your other arm.

Your second dose should be the same vaccine as your first.

Clinical trials are currently examining the effectiveness and safety of mixing and matching different coronavirus vaccines. Government advice for now is to get the same vaccine for your first and second dose.

You may be asked to wait a few days (a week at most) after having surgery to have a vaccination.

Everyone should get a second dose. The only exception is for people who had a serious reaction to the first dose of the vaccine. This is very unusual but if you did experience a severe reaction you should speak to your healthcare professional or call the COVID-19 helpline on 0800 029 999 and speak to a medical practitioner by selecting ‘option 3’.

In all other cases you should have the second dose. You may just need to delay your second dose if you are unwell, have a fever or are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. In these cases, you will need to wait until you feel better, or if positive for COVID-19, you must wait 28 days after your 14 day isolation period before getting your second vaccine.

[

Special cases

You need to take your ID, your mobile phone number and your medical aid card (if insured).

Yes, but only educators. Support and admin staff in private schools are not included.

No, if you have had your first Pfizer dose you must wait for your second Pfizer dose in the regular national vaccination programme. You must not receive both J&J and Pfizer. If you have received J&J already, you are not eligible for this vaccine.

If you are over 60 years old and have not yet received a vaccination against COVID-19 you may either receive the J&J vaccine (single dose) in your role as an educator, or you may proceed to have the Pfizer vaccine, which is a 2-dose regime. In order to receive the Pfizer vaccine you must register on the EVDS and await your scheduled appointment. In order to receive the J&J vaccine you will follow the process for educators..

However, if you have already had your first Pfizer vaccination, then you cannot receive the J&J vaccination as part of the programme for educators. Instead, you will receive a follow-up SMS when it is time for you to have your second dose of the Pfizer vaccination.

No, as an educator you will automatically be registered.

No, your details will be verified at the site against a list provided by the workplaces.

No, educators will not receive a booking SMS.

You will be advised through your school or the Department of Education

If you are unwell and concerned you must immediately visit your nearest healthcare facility or contact your healthcare practitioner. To report the event or get advice if the event is mild, you can call the Call Centre or report the event in the MedSafety app.

This depends on the sector in which you work. If they work in the private sector, then you only qualify if you are an educator. If you work in the public sector all the staff at the institutions qualify (PERSAL staff as of April 2021).

This opportunity is in place for two weeks for educators. If you cannot make your appointment, you will need to instead wait for your vaccine as part of the national vaccine roll-out campaign.

No, if you have contracted COVID in the last 30 days you must not vaccinate under this programme. This is for your own safety and the safety of our vaccinators. As this programme is only running for 2 weeks, you will need to wait to be vaccinated under the national vaccination roll-out programme.

No, if you have received your flu vaccine within 14 days of your appointment you must not vaccinate. This is for your own safety.

You will not be able to change your vaccination site, as the Department of Health and the Department of Education are organising for your vaccination site to be in a certain place according to the location of your school.

If you miss the two week window for vaccination you must wait for registration and scheduling through the usual vaccination programme. This will occur based on your age category and eligibility for vaccination. The Educator Phase is a specific opportunity for a defined time period, and if you miss the window you just rejoin the normal programme.

Eligible HCWs include:

  • Nurses (all categories)
  • Medical doctors (all categories and specialisations)
  • Dentists, dental therapists and oral hygienists
  • Clinical associates
  • Community health workers/liason and development officers employed by provincial Departments of Health Environmental Health practitioners (working for municipalities and provincial Departments of Health).
  • Pharmacists and Pharmacist Assistants (fully registered/post-basic/basic)
  • Radiographers
  • Emergency Medical Practitioners
  • Allied health staff (physiotherapists/ occupational therapists/ psychologists/ optometrists/ speech therapists/ audiologists/  biokineticists/ nutritionists/ dieticians).
  • Registered occupational health staff
  • Clinical and medical technologists at clinical laboratory services
  • Clinical and medical technologists at forensic medical laboratory services
  • Blood Transfusion Services laboratory technicians
  • Staff working in forensic mortuaries
  • Orthotists/ prosthetists/ podiatrists
  • Alternative medicine practitioners (homeopaths/osteopaths/chiropracters)
  • Medical/dental/nursing/pharmacy students that are on the clinical training platform
  • Staff working at national and provincial health departments and district health offices
  • Officials employed by National Port Health Authorities
  • Health staff at Department of Correctional Services
  • South African Military Health Services (SAMHS)
  • Cleaners/housekeeping staff at health establishments and care facilities
  • Security services at health establishments and care facilities
  • Administrative staff at health establishments and care facilities
  • Staff working in student health services at TVETs and HEIs
  • Funeral workers (formal funeral homes and volunteers from registered burial societies)
  • Registered traditional healers

Health professionals registered with councils can register for vaccination through V4HCW (https://bookings.v4hcw.co.za). The main website of V4HCW has explanatory notes on the process: https://v4hcw.co.za/

You will receive a new appointment in time. You do not need to re-register or take any other action. You can register and book an appointment on https://bookings.v4hcw.co.za/vax/ if you are a health professional registered with one of the councils, or on the PERSAL payroll system in the health sector.

No, re-registration is not required. Your registration will be automatically transferred to the current system and you will be scheduled for vaccination.

Information on registering your vaccination site is available on https://v4hcw.co.za/

The J&J vaccine you received under the Sisonke trial was made in the Netherlands, not in the USA. It was made according to the highest standards and was tested thoroughly.  The J&J vaccines that were contaminated were made in Baltimore in the USA. These vaccines have not been used and will not be used on anyone in South Africa.

https://wa.me/27600601111?text=hi    Or send “hi” to +27600601111

Other Questions

One source is The Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA). This is Africa’s network to share safe, proven facts on health and to counter dangerous health misinformation. It will help you to know what is really true and what is fake news.

To report a myth or to check if information is really true, you can visit: https://real411.org.za/

The World Health Organisation has a lot of very good information on vaccine safety.

The SACMC Epidemic Explorer is a dashboard built by the South African COVID-19 Modelling Consortium (SACMC) to explore the COVID-19 epidemic in South Africa, analyse resurgence risk, present metrics to prepare for future outbreaks, and monitor COVID-19 hospital admissions. You can check it out here: https://www.sacmcepidemicexplorer.co.za/

COVID-19 vaccination messaging guidelines

COVID-19 Vaccination Messaging Guideline developed by the Communication Work Stream of the Technical Committee of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccinations – 8 March 2021

1. Introduction

South Africa is rolling out its national COVID-19 vaccine programme, which aims to vaccinate 40 million South Africans. The programme entails procurement, distribution, vaccination, monitoring, communication and mobilisation.

This COVID-19 vaccination messaging guidelines aim to assist communicators in the formulation of messages on the vaccine rollout and help address key questions stakeholders may be asking. The guidelines provide supporting content and resource links on the key areas for communication. The content contained in this version of the guide is relevant as of 8 March 2021.

The rollout will take place in three phases to provide vaccinations to a minimum of 67 per cent of the population in order to achieve herd immunity. It means that the majority of the population would be immune to the virus, indirectly protecting those who are not and making the spread easier to manage and contain.

The vaccination programme is a key intervention to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also demonstrates how far the country has come in in the fight against the pandemic. On 5 March 2021 South Africa marked one year since the first case of coronavirus was reported in the country.

Since then, we have learned a lot about the pandemic and made strong inroads into turning the tide against the virus. Through instilling behaviour change by profiling everyday preventative measures and adopting a scientific approach to fight the virus, we helped stem the spread of COVID-19. Today we know much more about the pandemic and this has allowed us to respond more effectively to it.

The rollout is being overseen at the highest level by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Vaccination, chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza. The IMC will assist in advancing our vaccine rollout and strategy with quick decision-making to ensure a smooth implementation of the vaccination programme. It meets weekly to receive reports and intervene in unlocking any challenges that may be encountered.

2. COVID-19 vaccine

What is a COVID-19 vaccine?

A vaccine is intended to provide immunity against COVID-19.  In general, vaccines contain weakened or inactive parts of a particular organism that triggers an immune response within the body. This weakened version will not cause the disease in the person receiving the vaccine, but it will prompt their immune system to respond. Some vaccines require multiple doses, given weeks or months apart. This is sometimes needed to allow for the production of long-lived antibodies and development of memory cells. In this way, the body is trained to fight the specific disease-causing organism, building up memory against the pathogen so it can fight it in the future.  Vaccine Explanations and Answers

What process is followed before a vaccine is given to the public?

Before COVID-19 vaccines can be delivered:

  1. The vaccines must be proven to be safe and effective in large clinical trials.
  2. A series of independent reviews of the efficacy and safety evidence is required.
  3. The evidence must also be reviewed for the purpose of policy recommendations on how the vaccines should be used.
  4. An external panel of experts convened by WHO, called the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), analyses the results from clinical trials.
  5. The panel then recommends whether and how the vaccines should be used.
  6. Officials in individual countries decide whether to approve the vaccines for national use and develop policies on how to use the vaccines in their country, based on the recommendations by the WHO. COVID-19 Vaccine Checks and Balances

Were there delays in acquiring a COVID-19 vaccine for South Africans?

There has been no deliberate delay to access the COVID-19 vaccine. This is an unprecedented situation, which remains fluid with many factors in play. We are selecting vaccines based on their safety and efficacy, ease of use, storage, distribution, supply sustainability and cost.

3. Why are vaccines important

The aim of vaccination is to prevent morbidity and mortality. It is also to achieve herd immunity and prevent ongoing transmission. When a person is vaccinated against a disease, their risk of infection is also reduced. Vaccinations help lower the possibility for a pathogen to circulate in the community and protect those who cannot be vaccinated due to health conditions such as allergies or their age. Vaccine: Frequently Asked Questions

What is herd immunity?

When a lot of people in a community are vaccinated, the pathogen has a hard time circulating because most of the people it encounters are immune. This is called herd immunity. But no single vaccine provides 100 per cent protection, and herd immunity does not provide full protection to those who cannot safely be vaccinated. But with herd immunity, these people will have substantial protection, thanks to those around them being vaccinated. Vaccinating not only protects yourself, but also protects those in the community who are unable to be vaccinated. Reaching Herd-Immunity 

Are vaccines necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccination is the best defence against serious infections. Vaccines do not give you the virus, rather it teaches your immune system to recognise and fight the infection. The COVID-19 vaccine presents the body with instructions to build immunity and does not alter human cells. Vaccines have reduced the morbidity and mortality of infectious diseases such as smallpox, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, measles, tetanus, whooping cough and pneumococcal conjugate across the world. Vaccinating enough people would help create herd immunity and stamp out the disease. The Impact of Vaccines

Why opt for one vaccine over another?

There are a number of variants of COVID-19 that have arisen around the world.  No single vaccine will be effective against all the variants. South Africa’s vaccination campaign is guided by science and this means the country may need to change the choice of vaccine it uses. This was demonstrated in the case with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was less effective against the 501Y.V2 variant while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has proved effective against the COVID-19 501Y.V2 variant. Vaccine Efficacy 501Y-V2-Variant

4. Vaccine safety

What steps are taken to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

COVID-19 vaccines go through a rigorous, multi-stage testing process, including large trials that involve tens of thousands of people. These trials, which include people at high risk for COVID-19, are specifically designed to identify any common side effects or other safety concerns. Once a clinical trial shows that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, a series of independent reviews of the efficacy and safety evidence is required, including regulatory review and approval in the country where the vaccine is manufactured, before the WHO considers a vaccine product for prequalification. An external panel of experts convened by the WHO analyses the results from clinical trials, along with evidence on the disease, age groups affected, risk factors for disease, and other information.  The panel recommends whether and how the vaccines should be used. Steps Towards COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

Are vaccines safe to use?

Vaccines undergo rigorous trials to ensure they are safe and effective. All vaccines go through a comprehensive approval process by medical regulators to ensure that they are safe. Pharmaceutical companies hand over all laboratory studies and safety trials to validate that the vaccine does work. Any safety concerns are picked up by regulators when reviewing the data. Vaccines are made to save lives – not to oppress, bewitch, possess or indoctrinate people. Vaccine Safety Details

How do we make sure COVID-19 vaccines are safe?

Government is working closely with South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to ensure there is no delay approving the vaccine for use. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorisation. COVID-19 Vaccine Vetting & Approval

5. Sourcing the vaccine

Where is South Africa getting its first vaccine from?

The first doses of the vaccine are from Johnson & Johnson as its vaccine has proved effective against the COVID-19 501Y.V2 variant. The country has secured 11 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Of these doses, 2.8 million doses will be delivered in the second quarter and the rest spread throughout the year. Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Who are our other vaccine suppliers?

South Africa reached an agreement with the COVAX Facility to secure 12 million vaccine doses. This will be complemented by other vaccines that are available to South Africa through the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team facility. Pfizer has committed 20 million vaccine doses commencing with deliveries at the end of the first quarter. Government continues to work with various pharmaceuticals companies to ensure we immunise 67 per cent of the population. Suppliers of the COVID-19 Vaccine

Who is purchasing the COVID-19 vaccine for South Africa?

Government will source, distribute and oversee the rollout of the vaccine. Government as the sole purchaser of vaccines will distribute it to provincial governments and the private sector. A national register for COVID-19 vaccinations will be established. The vaccination system will be based on a pre-vaccination registration and appointment system.  All those vaccinated will be placed on a national register and provided with a vaccination card.  A national rollout committee will oversee the vaccine implementation in both the public and private sectors. Vaccine Procurement

Available vaccines details (as at 18/2/2021)

Pfizer /BioNTech Vaccine

  • Regulatory: Emergency Use Authorizations by US Food and Drug Administration including WHO Prequalification Programme.
  • Efficacy: > 90% protection – 2 dose vaccine
  • Rollout has happened in a few countries.
  • Storage:  minus 70 deg C (limitation for SA as we have limited commercial ultra-low cold chain storage)
  • Effective against the 501Y.V2 variant

AstraZeneca/University of Oxford Vaccine

  • Regulatory: Approved as Emergency Use Authorizations by Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and Drugs Controller General of India.
  • Efficacy: 70% efficacy – 2 dose vaccine
  • AZ has outsourced the production of the vaccine to various sites globally including the largest vaccine producer globally – the Serum institute of India (SII).
  • This vaccine likely to be widely used globally due to temperature stability and volumes.
  • Storage: 2 – 8 deg C

Johnson & Johnson

  • Regulatory: Emergency Use Authorisation by FDA
  • Single dose product.
  • Vaccine has shown to be 66% effective.
  •  Product will also be manufactured at the Aspen facility in South Africa.
  • Refrigerator storage
  • Effective against the 501Y.V2 variant

Moderna

  • Regulatory: Emergency Use Authorizations by FDA
  • Two dose vaccine
  • Storage: minus 20 deg C
  • Effective against the 501Y.V2 variant

Sputnik V

  • In Phase 3 clinical trials in the UAE, India, Venezuela and Belarus.
  • Sputnik V is already registered in 17 countries
  • Sputnik V is a two dose vaccine
  • Efficacy of over 90%.
  • Storage: The lyophilized vaccine can be stored at a temperature of +2 to +8 degrees Celsius

CoronaVac (Sinovac)

  • In phase three trials in various countries.
  •  Interim data from trials in Turkey and Indonesia show 91.25% and 65.3% effective respectively
  • Storage: Refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius

6. COVID-19 surveillance and research

Scientists at the KwaZulu-Natal Research, Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) initiated the genomic surveillance of the spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus in South Africa since early April 2020. In June 2020, the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA) was established to ensure that the public health response to COVID-19 in South Africa has access to the best possible scientific data.

The activities of KRISP and the NGS-SA groups led to the detection of the 501Y.V2 mutation, which was mostly responsible for the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa.  The work of the NGS-SA group was expanded to include other scientists in order to study the effect of the 501Y.V2 mutation. This led to the discovery that certain vaccines are less effective against the mutated virus, with the resultant withdrawal of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the country’s vaccine rollout programme.

The scientists also discovered that exposure to the COVID-19 virus during the first wave does not provide sufficient protection against the 501Y.V2 variant responsible for the second wave of COVID-19 infections. The research by KRISP and NGC-SA is a testament to South Africa’s scientific prowess and leadership in dealing with COVID-19 pandemic.

Through constant surveillance, our scientists remain at the forefront of tracking the virus and using science to understand how to fight it. South Africa’s response against COVID-19 has always been scientifically based, led by our world-renowned scientists.

Ground-breaking Discovery on the 501Y.V2 Variant  

The scientists at the KwaZulu-Natal Research, Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP), African Health Research Institute (AHRI) and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) made the ground breaking discovery that individuals who became infected with 501Y.V2 in the 2nd wave now have antibodies against reinfection with 501Y.V2 or pre-existing variants in the country.

The 501Y.V2 variant is able to generate immune responses that neutralise it and therefore a vaccine based on this variant is likely to generate neutralising antibodies. While the discovery is a positive development in our fight against COVID-19, we cannot afford to become complacent. The finding does not mean we are immune to the virus or can disregard safety protocols that have thus far helped protect many South Africans from infection. Furthermore, it does not mean that those who were infected in the 2nd wave will be protected from future variants of the virus.

The virus continues to spread through contact and indiscriminately kills. We still have a long way to go to defeat the virus and South Africans have an important role to play by participating in our vaccination drive and adhering to health protocols. Vaccinating not only protects oneself but through herd immunity, also protects those who are unable to be vaccinated such as new born babies.  Washing hands with soap or 70% alcohol-based sanitiser, wearing of masks in public and social distancing keeps the virus at bay.

The research results place South Africa at the centre of discovering a lasting solution to the fight against COVID-19.  These findings now form the basis for further research into the vaccine and its efficacy. It will also assist the world in streamlining its focus on a vaccine that would eradicate the virus. Vaccines already developed and those in the pipeline can now be tweaked to adequately respond to the virus. KRISP Research Findings

7. Funding the vaccine rollout

The 2021 National Budget has allocated R10 billion for the purchase and delivery of vaccines to fight the spread of COVID-19. The bulk of the money – R6.5 billion – will be allocated to the Department of Health to buy and distribute the vaccine while R2.4 billion will be allocated to provinces to help them distribute and administer the vaccines.

The Medical Research Council received a R100 million injection for vaccine research and GCIS will preside over a R50 million allocation to run mass communication campaigns around the vaccine rollout.

Treasury has also identified another R9 billion that could be drawn from the country’s contingency reserve and emergency allocations to support the vaccination programme.

8. Vaccines for the COVID-19 501Y.V2 variant

Efficacy Studies

Government is committed to ensure that best options and approaches are utilised to protect the population from infections. South Africa has well established protocols of ensuring safe use of all new health products.

South African scientists commenced studies on the efficacy of various vaccines during 2020. They focused on the impact of vaccines against the 501Y.V2 variant in the latter part of the year. The results of these studies became available only on 5 February 2021, which established that the AstraZeneca vaccine does not prevent mild to moderate disease of the 501Y.V2 variant.

The government’s process of procuring vaccines preceded the discovery of the 501Y.V2 variant and other variants.  Before the efficacy results, South Africa could not delay receipt of the vaccine batches to await the results of the efficacy studies as this would have relegated the country to the back of the line for vaccines due to global shortage of supplies.

The government’s process of procuring vaccines preceded the discovery of the 501Y.V2 variant and other variants. At the time, South Africa could not delay receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine batches as it would have relegated the country to the back of the line for vaccines due to global shortage of supplies.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

South Africa will use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine instead of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Phase 1 of its vaccination drive.  The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been proven effective against the 501Y.V2.

Efficacy trials of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were done as part of the company’s Phase 3 Ensemble clinical trials.

Sisonke Programme

The vaccination of healthcare workers with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is part of the Sisonke (‘Together’) programme, a study to assess the real world effectiveness of the vaccine among healthcare workers. It sets out to monitor, track and assess the occurrence of hospitalisations, the incidence of severe SARS CoV-2 infections, the diversity of breakthrough infections and evaluates vaccine uptake among healthcare workers.

The programme is a partnership of the South African Medical Research Council and the National Department of Health that will vaccinate 500 000 healthcare workers. Through the programme government is able to make this safe and effective vaccine immediately available.

The Sisonke programme is not a clinical trial but rather a way that the research study can help to make the vaccine available while the licensing process takes place. Government chose to move ahead with this programme because it would be unethical to withhold a vaccine known to be safe and effective.

The programme is overseen by an experienced team of healthcare professionals who receive, store and dispense the vaccine. They work closely with national and provincial health public and private vaccine centres to ensure that the vaccination of healthcare workers is done safely and carefully managed.

9. Vaccine rollout

The vaccine will be administered free of charge at various points of service across all parts of the country. The country’s vaccination campaign draws on the principles of universal health coverage where all adults living in South Africa have access to the vaccine.

This is the largest vaccination campaign undertaken in our history – it stretches across 52 districts and 280 wards to reach 40 million of our people. The programme entails procurement, distribution, actual vaccination, monitoring, communication and mobilisation.

The COVID-19 vaccine will be rolled out in three phases. It is anticipated that by the end of the final phase, 40 350 000 citizens would have been immunised. While government will lead the vaccine rollout initiative, it requires a multi sectoral collaboration to ensure that the vaccine drive is effective.

  • Who will get the COVID-19 vaccine first?

We will begin by vaccinating our country’s estimated 1.25 million healthcare workers. The rollout will proceed in the form of an implementation study with the partnership of the Medical Research Council and the National Department of Health vaccination sites across the country. This will provide valuable information about the pandemic in the post-vaccination community and thus ensure early identification of breakthrough infections should they occur amongst vaccinated health workers. Vaccine Rollout Infographics

  • How will the vaccine be distributed?

Our rollout of the vaccine will take a three-phase approach that begins with the most vulnerable in our population. Our target is to vaccinate 67 per cent of the population, which will allow us to achieve herd immunity.

Phase 1 will focus on frontline healthcare workers, with a target of 1 250 000 people.

Phase 2 will include;

  • Essential workers. Target population: 2 500 000
  • Persons in congregate settings. Target population: 1 100 000
  • Persons >60 years. Target population: 5 000 000
  • Persons >18 years with co-morbidities. Target population: 8 000 000

Phase 3 will focus on persons older than 18 years, targeting 22,500,000 of the population.

  • How will the vaccines be administered?

The vaccination system will be based on a pre-vaccination registration and appointment system at a specific vaccination site. The system will help government plan ahead on the amount of doses needed at any particular point in time. All South Africans who are vaccinated will be placed on a national register and provided with a vaccination card.

  • Do I have to travel to receive the vaccine?

After targeted groups receive the vaccine, mass vaccinations will take place in urban centres at pharmacies, health facilities, community halls and schools. These sites will have to be registered and must comply with a number of requirements to secure and safeguard the vaccination process.

  • How do I sign up for the vaccine?

An electronic vaccination data system (EVDS) will assist with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across the country. EVDS is an online self-enrolment portal where South Africans can register via a digital device for an appointment. Those who qualify will be sent a notification through SMS informing them of the time and place that the vaccine will be available. They will have to provide their ID, a contact number and unique code that is sent to them when at the vaccination site. Those residents who do not have access to the internet can approach healthcare facilities to assist them with assisted registration on the EVDS.  EVDS Self Enrolment Portal

10. Key communication issues related to COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccine safety communication

Vaccine safety communication is an essential component of immunisation services and programmes. Even before a vaccine safety issue occurs, communication must be ready to engage effectively. The link below sets out the guidelines by the World Health Organisation to enable effective planning and implementation of proactive communication.  It promotes an understanding of the importance of vaccines in preventing illness and preventable deaths, and raises awareness of vaccine risks and perceptions of risk  COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Managing expectations

Communication and messaging should manage and mitigate any potential disappointment expressed by unmet demand for the vaccine or eagerness amongst people.  Not all South African will be vaccinated at one time, the rollout of the vaccine will take a three-phased approach that begins with the most vulnerable in our population. The infographic resource details South Africa’s rollout: COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Vaccine hesitancy

Communication should address vaccine hesitancy that could arise because of apprehensions around vaccine safety, efficacy and misconceptions. It is common for new vaccines to be met with initial hesitancy, which later resolves as the vaccine programme becomes established. The following links provide a resource for addressing and understanding vaccine hesitancy.

Communicating risk

As with all medicines, there could at times be minor side effects. Risk communication should acknowledge that the COVID-19 vaccines have temporary side effects such as fever and muscle pain. Communication should reassure the public that there is no need for concern, these side effects pass within 24 to 48 hours. Serious side effects such as allergic reactions are exceedingly rare. COVID-19 Vaccines Side Effects

Preparing media

It is also crucial to prepare the media on possible side effects, especially with regard to when elderly people get vaccinated. When dealing with older persons, some tragic events could happen even when the vaccine has nothing to do with it. It is important not to jump to the conclusion that there is a connection between the vaccination and those events.

The only way to determine if vaccines have serious side effects is by scientific means. It would require looking at the data from many vaccinated people, and by comparing them to what would be expected in that age group.

Engaging communities

South African civil society, community-based organisations and community leaders have a rich history of supporting communities. These organisations can play a crucial role in communicating the positive norms towards vaccination. Community leaders should engage with empathy, transparency, and honesty to develop and maintain public trust and communicate effectively. A diversity of community groups should be included in engagement activities.  Through the work of the IMC on Vaccination, established by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza, strong partnerships with civil society, business, the faith community and many other sectors have been forged all of whom are coming to the fore to advance the effort to build confidence amongst communities to vaccinate, and help in dispelling myths, rumours and conspiracy theories.

Let the public do the talking

Getting the public involved in spreading the message is helpful. In this regard, social media can be a valuable asset. Social influencers or endorsements from experts and official voices should be used to spell out the process of immunisation (where, how, who, when date, and time); and emphasise the safety and efficacy of vaccines and explain the decision to conduct the drive in a phased manner.

11. Addressing COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

Anti-vaccination misinformation focuses on the need for vaccines, how they work, safety, their components, their moral or religious acceptability, and their development and testing. The following facts can be used to address 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 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.

12. Busting vaccine myths

It is important to protect the public against misinformation and propaganda. Before spending time and resources on addressing specific misinformation, it is also important to know whether it is really having an impact or is likely to have an impact.

Every time misinformation is addressed, someone else’s agenda is being profiled. Because misinformation can spread fast, it is best if communicators and messengers are prepared. One approach against misinformation is achieved by explaining misleading or manipulative argumentation strategies to people. It includes a warning that people may be misled, followed by a pre-emptive refutation of the misleading argument. Infographics on Vaccine Myths

The following are some of the misinformation and myths that have been recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Were vaccine safety protocols circumvented to fast track their authorisation for use?

The fast development and approval of vaccines is a great human feat worthy of celebration. This has been possible because we have learnt over many decades how to make and test vaccines and we were able to take those lessons and challenge ourselves to produce a vaccine much quicker. No step in the development, testing or ratification of the COVID-19 vaccines has been skipped. The world was able to develop vaccines fast because scientists and governments around the world collaborated in a manner that has never been achieved before and pooled resources and information to ensure that everyone can contribute to the knowledge.

Will the vaccine change a person’s DNA?

Vaccines work by stimulating the body the same way the virus would if someone were infected. The vaccine does not work on the DNA of the body. Some people think that because some of the vaccines are made using RNA technology that the RNA will interact with the DNA. That is not how it works. The technology is simply the way the vaccine is made – not what it will do to the body.

The Vaccines have the mark of the Beast – 666.

Vaccines have no connection with any religious organisations and cannot be infused with spirits, demons or other abstract ingredients. There is no conspiracy to possess, bewitch or control anybody

Big businesses are pushing vaccines to improve profits.

The COVID-19 crisis has caused massive upheaval across the globe and no nation has been spared. A vaccine represents the best hope to save lives and to restore our way of life. Many governments have therefore entered into direct talks with vaccine makers to ensure a timeous supply of vaccines

Vaccines contain a form of microchip that will be used to track and control an individual.

There is no vaccine “microchip” and there is no evidence to support claims that such a move is planned. Receiving a vaccine will not allow people to be tracked and personal information would not be entered into a database.

Do 5G networks cause the coronavirus through radiation emissions?

The World Health Organisation has made it clear that viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. It is also a fact that COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose.

Vaccines are a way for our former oppressors to oppress us again.

Government would never allow a situation where any country or nation would be allowed to oppress our people through any means. Scientists and governments all over the world, including our own, have contributed to the knowledge that has led to the development of the vaccines. It has not just been the work of Western and rich countries but a global collaboration.

13. Conclusion

While the vaccine is an important part of COVID-19 protection, it is important for all communication to continue to emphasise the continued practice of COVID-19 appropriate non-pharmaceutical behaviours.

It includes the frequent and thorough cleaning of hands, wearing a mask/face cover and physical distancing of not less than 2-metres for personal safety and prevention of community transmission.

For further information please contact:

  1. Dr Lwazi Manzi, Ministry of Health – 082 678-8979