If you are 12 and above, don’t wait any longer! Go and get vaccinated at a site near you.

You can speed up the process by registering before you get there. When you register online, you can even choose when and where to go.

You don’t have to wait for an SMS. Just go straight to get vaccinated.

This is particularly important if you are fifty years or older because your risk is highest.

Do it NOW! Any questions or concerns, call 0800 029 999
or send an email to: info@vaccinesupport.org.za

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Send a Whatsapp with the word “REGISTER” to 0600 123 456
Click to view the SAHRPA “Adverse Events Following Immunization” (AEFI) Portal

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, which employ 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, they 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 continue to take 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 having been tested on the continent before their 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 show that COVID-19 vaccines work and are safe.

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,  although you should get vaccinated as soon as possible according to the guidelines below.

After mild COVID-19 you can have your COVID-19 vaccine 30 days after recovering from the acute infection. This is usually around 40 days after your first symptoms.

After severe COVID-19 (needing oxygen) you need to wait 90 days for your vaccine.

After acute illness (not COVID-19), especially flu-like symptoms, you should delay your vaccine until you are well.

If you are in quarantine after COVID-19 contact, you should delay your vaccine until your full 10 day quarantine is over.

If you have had another vaccine e.g the flu vaccine, you should wait 2 weeks after the other vaccine before having your COVID-19 vaccine.

Yes, vaccination is safe for pregnant women. Pregnancy puts women at higher risk of severe COVID-19, and for this reason, it is advised that vaccines are offered to all pregnant and breastfeeding women during any stage of pregnancy, and during breastfeeding

Please click here for the latest circular regarding vaccination, pregnancy and breastfeeding

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.

After mild COVID-19 you can have your COVID-19 vaccine 30 days after recovering from the acute infection. This is usually around 40 days after your first symptoms.

After severe COVID-19 (needing oxygen) you need to wait 90 days for your vaccine.

After acute illness (not COVID-19), especially flu-like symptoms, you should delay your vaccine until you are well.

If you are in quarantine after COVID-19 contact, you should delay your vaccine until your full 10 day quarantine is over.

After mild COVID-19 you can have your COVID-19 vaccine 30 days after recovering from the acute infection. This is usually around 40 days after your first symptoms.

After severe COVID-19 (needing oxygen) you need to wait 90 days for your vaccine.

Do not worry about missing your appointment, you can visit your nearest site when you are ready, book an appointment online https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za/ or contact 0800 029 999 to be rescheduled.

You must not vaccinate when you are sick and you cannot be cured of COVID-19 by vaccinating.

After acute illness (not COVID-19), especially flu-like symptoms, you should delay your vaccine until you are well.

If you are in quarantine after COVID-19 contact, you should delay your vaccine until your full 10 day quarantine is over.

After mild COVID-19 you can have your COVID-19 vaccine 30 days after recovering from the acute infection. This is usually around 40 days after your first symptoms.

After severe COVID-19 (needing oxygen) you need to wait 90 days for your vaccine.

Do not worry about missing your appointment, you can visit your nearest site when you are ready, book an appointment online https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za/ or contact 0800 029 999 to be rescheduled.

If you have had another vaccine e.g the flu vaccine, you should wait 2 weeks after the other vaccine before having your COVID-19 vaccine.

After mild COVID-19 you can have your COVID-19 vaccine 30 days after recovering from the acute infection. This is usually around 40 days after your first symptoms.

After severe COVID-19 (needing oxygen) you need to wait 90 days for your vaccine.

Do not worry about missing your appointment, you can visit your nearest site when you are ready, book an appointment online https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za/ or contact 0800 029 999 to be rescheduled.

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 – 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. 

Useful information on vaccines globally can be found here:
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html

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.

The recommended interval between doses is 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.

Vooma Vaccination Champions (Vax Champs) help end the COVID-19 pandemic by encouraging friends, family and neighbours to get the COVID-19 vaccination. Run by the Department of Health and civil society partners, Vax Champs is the national effort to mobilise people all over the country to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vaccination saves lives, and if enough of us vaccinate, we can put a stop to the pandemic in SA. We invite everyone to be an ambassador for vaccination, we are all in the team that can overcome the pandemic.

Please help control the pandemic
Protect your friends & family
Be a Vax Champ!

We are all in the team that can overcome COVID-19

Vax Champs do 3 things:

1. Educate yourself about COVID-19 and vaccines. We will send you information and hold regular chats so that you are well-informed and can offer
useful advice to people in your community.

2. Promote Vaccines. Tell people in your community that you have been vaccinated and share information about the vaccine if they are interested.
Encourage people in your community to vaccinate. Speak to people in your area face-to-face or through social media like WhatsApp.

3. Report problems. Help us understand issues that stop people vaccinating in your community, such as concerns or myths. We’ll use this information to improve the vaccination services in your community.

If you become a Vax Champ the greatest benefit is that you will join a community of people working together to end the pandemic and save lives. You will be a leader in your community in ending the Covid pandemic and improving their health.

You will receive training and capacity building around information on Covid and vaccines, how to listen to people and encourage then, and how to use social media effectively.

We will have a weekly draw with exciting prizes for Vax Champs. We will announce these prizes in the coming weeks.

Once you have become a Vax Champ We will send you information regularly.

We will also invite you to sessions online to help you know more about the COVID-19 vaccine and to learn how to answer questions and encourage people to
vaccinate.

You can become a member of a private Facebook group where you can ask questions and find information. Our website also has a closed section for Vax Champs where you can ask more questions and find information.

  • You can speak to people face-to-face where you are comfortable to do that.
  • You can log onto our website on the Moya app and speak to your friends via the app. Moya is a data free app that you can find in the Android store.
  • You can receive information through SMS.

Anyone can become a Vax Champ in any of three ways:

  • Check our website www.vaxchamp.org.za
  • Use the NDOH Covid WhatsApp system on 060 012 3456
  • Call the National Covid Hotline 0800 029 999

Vaccine Side Effects

Yes, this is normal. Vaccines are designed to give you immunity without the dangers of getting severe disease. It is common to experience some mild-to-moderate side-effects when receiving vaccinations. This is because your immune system is instructing your body to react in certain ways: it increases blood flow so more immune cells can circulate, and it raises your body temperature in order to kill the virus.

The most common side-effects that occur after vaccination are mild. They include:

pain, swelling, or redness where the vaccine was injected
mild fever
chills
feeling tired
headache
muscle and joint aches

Less common side-effects reported for some COVID-19 vaccines have included:

difficulty breathing
swelling of the face and throat
a fast heartbeat
a bad rash all over your body
dizziness and weakness

These serious side-effects from vaccines are extremely rare. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises people to be monitored for 15 minutes after vaccination, and those with a history of other allergies for 30 minutes. This allows for them to be monitored and treated immediately if they have a severe reaction.

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

the redness or tenderness at the injection site worsens after 24 hours
the side-effects are worrying and have not cleared after a few days

The vaccine side-effects should resolve within two to three days after being administered the COVID-19 vaccine. At most, the side-effects can last up to a week.

While the symptoms show the immune system is responding to the vaccine in a way that will protect against disease, evidence from clinical trials showed that those with few or no symptoms were also protected.

A blood clot that develops after vaccination is called a vaccine-induced thrombosis. The most serious of these clots tend to occur in large veins in the brain and abdomen while the platelets (that would normally be part of the clotting process) drop dangerously low as well. This is called vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia. It is an extremely rare condition, but local experts and treatments are available. Chances of developing this condition is extremely rare and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) confirmed that no major safety concerns were identified in the healthcare workers who partook in the Sisonke vaccine trial.

Severe headache with blurred vision, vomiting, weakness on one side of the body or difficulty speaking.
Severe abdominal pain that can also be associated with vomiting.
A rash of tiny red spots might occur under the skin around the injection site.
Leg pain or swelling.
Chest pain or shortness of breath.

If you present any of these symptoms, act without delay:

Seek care immediately. Go to an emergency unit, tell the doctor when you were vaccinated and take any medication that you have been taking with you.
A blood test will check if your platelets are low.
Ask your doctor to phone the Sisonke Safety team of doctors at 0800 014 956 (24 hours).

An ‘adverse event following immunisation’ (AEFI) is any untoward health event which happens after a person receives a vaccine. A ‘health event’ is a symptom (something with a person complains of, for example a ‘headache’ or ‘difficulty seeing’) or a ‘sign’ (something a health practitioner notices about a patient, for example, raised blood pressure). The health event may or may not be caused by the vaccine.

For example, the following are adverse events following immunisation: a person who receives a COVID-19 vaccine and then has a stroke, a heart attack or a death in a motor vehicle accident. Any of these events may or may not be associated with vaccination, but all of these events are ‘AEFI’. An AEFI usually occurs within 28 days following vaccination, but there is no time limit to reporting an event.

All health events after vaccination are important to investigate, because vaccines are given to healthy people.

Therefore, whilst some mild and short-lasting symptoms are acceptable, moderately severe and severe side effects are not acceptable, and should be fully  investigated to understand if the vaccination was responsible. If the public understands that all ‘adverse effects following immunisation’ are taken seriously, and appropriate action is taken, people will have more trust that vaccines are safe.

All vaccines (and medicines) have side effects. COVID-19 vaccines have mild side effects, which differ slightly among the vaccines that are available. Most COVID-19 vaccines cause mild fever or pain or redness at the injection site. Other side effects include high fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, rash at the injection site, chills, and mild diarrhoea. Most reactions to vaccines are mild and go away within a few days on their own. Allergic reactions (medically known as ‘hypersensitivity reactions’) are not uncommon after any kind of vaccine. Allergic reactions can be mild (such as a rash or itchiness around the injection site), or very uncommonly, severe. A severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis leads to low blood pressure, collapse, difficulty breathing with/without skin rash. This reaction needs emergency treatment including fluid, oxygen and adrenaline.

More serious or long-lasting side effects to vaccines have been reported but extremely rare. The most well publicised adverse reaction is a condition known as vaccine-induced thrombosis and thrombocytopenia (VITT). Symptoms appear 10-14 days after vaccination and may include symptoms of a stroke, or bleeding, and depend on which blood vessels and organs are affected. The exact mechanism of this is not clearly understood, but is likely to occur because of antibody responses to parts of the vaccine.

When adverse events are investigated, they are classified as:

minor local reactions – these include swelling, redness or rash at the injection site
minor systemic reactions – these include mild headache, body aches and pains, fainting or fever less then 38°C
severe local reactions – these include longer duration of symptoms at the injection site, but also includes swollen glands or abscess at the injection
severe systemic reactions – any condition that results in hospitalisation, severe allergic reactions, high and prolonged fevers or collapse

Theoretically, all adverse events after vaccination should be reported, even those that have improved clinically or resolved spontaneously. However, adverse events that occur commonly, such as mild fever, tiredness or headache are often not reported. Uncommon and serious side effects should always be reported. Serious adverse effects are those that need medical attention or admission to hospitalisation. In general, health authorities watch out for adverse effects that have proven associations with immunisation, but also for adverse effects that may theoretically occur but which have not yet been observed.

Any health practitioner or member of the public may report that an adverse event following immunisation has occurred. When the vaccine is given at a vaccination station, the vaccinator or person responsible for the vaccination ‘station’ or the facility manager should report the adverse event.

The adverse event may be reported using the MedSafety App (see below) or by completing a paper ‘case report form’ which may be found at https://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/adverse-event-following- immunization- aefi/.

The form should be returned by email to AEFI@health.gov.za.

The best way for a member of the public to report an adverse effect is by using the ‘MedSafety App’ as described below.

The ‘Med Safety App’ may be found on Google Play Store (Android) or the Apple App store (iOS). Instructions and a video explaining how to use it may be found at https://medsafety.sahpra.org.za/. Health practitioners and members of the public may report the adverse event using the app. After the app has been downloaded, a person can report immediately, or register on the app by providing medical registration and contact details.

The app will ask for details of the person reporting the event, so that the public health authorities can investigate the event. However, the patient details (the person who experienced the event) are not mandatory fields on the app. In this way the patient details will remain confidential and known only to the health authorities. If persons experience problems with the app, they may contact the helpline (012-501 0311) on weekdays during office hours) or send an email to adr@sahpra.org.za.

Each province and district has allocated persons who are responsible for investigating adverse events following vaccination. Usually these persons will belong to the ‘EPI team’ and/or the communicable disease surveillance team. The EPI team is responsible for co-ordinating the ‘Expanded Programme of Immunisation’ and is supporting the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

The person responsible for investigating the event will complete a ‘case investigation form’. This form asks a set of comprehensive questions that will provide all the information that is necessary to work out the relationship between the vaccine and the adverse events. Questions on the form include vaccination details and procedures, immunisation practices at the place where the vaccine was administered, cold chain and vaccine transport, community investigations (to identify clusters of cases), patient medical history, clinical examination and results of investigations.

The investigator will obtain the medical records of the person who experienced the adverse event. The investigator will not make a judgement themselves on the cause of the adverse event, but will submit these data to the provincial or the national immunisation safety expert committee (NISEC).

The provincial committee responsible for reviewing the adverse event or NISEC uses the Wold Health Organization (WHO) algorithm to examine what is reported about the event, including the case investigation form, the patient’s clinical details, standard case definitions from the Brighton collaboration (https://brightoncollaboration.us/), currently available literature regarding vaccine adverse events, and product- related data from the manufacturers. When all the data is put together, the committee categorises the event as being:

‘consistent with a causal association to immunisation’. This includes ‘vaccine product-related reactions, vaccine quality defect-related reactions’,
‘Immunisation error-related reactions’ or ‘Immunisation anxiety- related reactions’.
a co-incidental event
temporally associated with vaccination but without definitive evidence for vaccine causing the event

This committee is appointed by the Minister of Health. It includes experts from all clinical disciplines whose expertise may contribute to determining the role of vaccines causing adverse events. Presently, experts on the committee include pharmacists, pharmacovigilance experts, infectious disease specialists, paediatricians, EPI programme experts, immunologists, microbiologists, pathologists, public health specialists. The committee may ask advice from specialists who do not sit on the committee. Meetings are held quarterly or adhoc depending on volume of cases that are reported.

The NISEC committee reports findings to the Minister of Health, the national Department of Health and the provincial Departments of Health and to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). NISEC adverse event data and final assessments are reported into the WHO so that pooled data from countries can contribute to global monitoring of safety signals. These data are reported via SAHPRA through the global ‘Vigibase’ and ‘Vigiflow’ database systems that are used to track adverse effects related to pharmaceutical and therapeutic treatments.

All COVID-19 vaccines that are currently administered are novel vaccines which are made available to people through the WHOs Emergency Use Assessment and Listing Procedures (EUALs). These are a set of procedures to evaluate health products for acceptable performance, quality and safety so as to accelerate the use of these tools during the epidemic. However, because products that are used under EUAL criteria are new products, there may be risks associated with the administration of these. Therefore, the WHO advised countries to ensure fair compensation through creation of ‘no fault compensation schemes’. A ‘no-fault’ compensation allows for a payout without the need to go to court to establish who was responsible (hence ‘no-fault’). Therefore it makes the compensation process faster and cheaper.

WHO has provided funds for countries that are beneficiaries of COVID-19 vaccines through the advance market commitment scheme. However, South Africa does is not eligible for this funding, and is obliged to provide our own legislative framework for compensation. The South African Government has issued draft legislation under the Disaster Management Regulations for public comment regarding a ‘vaccine injury no fault compensation scheme’. This scheme allows individuals who have suffered an adverse event to receive monetary compensation following review and investigation of the case by NISEC. The exact details of how the South African ‘no fault compensation process’ will work are being finalised.

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 vaccines to provincial governments and the private sector.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that those most at risk of severe illness, death and exposure to COVID-19 get vaccinated first. This included frontline health workers (especially those providing COVID-19 patient care) and older people. However, vaccination is now available for everyone over the age of 18 in South Africa, so there is  no need to wait any longer. Go and get vaccinated at a site near you!

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 over 18 years of age

After the 35-49 year olds the next group will be the 18 – 34 year olds from 20 August 2021.

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, you will need to register to be vaccinated. However, if you are struggling to register you can visit your nearest vaccination site and they will assist you.

You can register on the Department of Health Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS):

  • USSD: It’s free! Dial *134*832#
  • Register on WhatsApp: Send the word REGISTER to 060 012 3456
  • Register online: Go to https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za
  • By phone: It’s free! Call 0800 029 999

PLEASE NOTE: If you have access to the Internet, you can now choose when and where to get vaccinated:

  • Once you are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment.
  • Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  • Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  • You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

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.
  • Once registered, even if you do not receive this SMS, you can go to any vaccination site and vaccinate.

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.
  • Once registered, even if you do not receive this SMS, you can go to any vaccination site and vaccinate.

To register on the website

  • First make sure you have internet access.
  • You will need a smartphone, a tablet or a computer.
  • 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.
  • Once registered, even if you do not receive this SMS, you can go to any vaccination site and vaccinate.

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.

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.

All platforms are available in English. Additional languages are being added.

USSD WhatsApp Online Contact Centre
English English English English
Afrikaans Afrikaans Afrikaans Afrikaans
Sesotho Sesotho Sesotho Sesotho
isiXhosa isiXhosa isiXhosa isiXhosa
isiZulu isiZulu isiZulu isiZulu

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@health.gov.za

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

or call 0800 029 999

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.

However, if you are still struggling to register, just go to your nearest vaccination site and they will be able to assist you.

You do not need to wait for an appointment by  SMS. There are now sufficient vaccines for you to go and get vaccinated immediately.

If you have previously registered you do not need to re-register. You can just go to the vaccination site and have your vaccine.

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

Please note that you do not need to wait for an appointment to go and get vaccinated. There are now sufficient vaccines available for you to just walk into a vaccination site and get a vaccine today!

You do not need to wait for an appointment by  SMS. There are now sufficient vaccines for you to go and get vaccinated immediately. You can also pre-book your appointment online https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za/ or call 0800 029 999 to make a booking.

You do not need to wait for an appointment by  SMS. There are now sufficient vaccines for you to go and get vaccinated immediately. You can also pre-book your appointment online https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za/ or call 0800 029 999 to make a booking.

You do not need to wait for the SMS. There are now sufficient vaccines for you to go and get vaccinated immediately. You can also pre-book your appointment online https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za/ or call 0800 029 999 to make a booking.

You do not need to wait for the appointment SMS. There are now sufficient vaccines available for you to go and get one immediately. You can also pre-book your appointment online https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za/ or call 0800 029 999 to make a booking.

The appointment SMS will include the NAME of the client, so you will be able to identify which SMS is for which person registered. However, you do not need to wait for an SMS to go and get vaccinated. Just go to the nearest vaccination site.

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 register, 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.

If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

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 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 18 and older if the health department has determined that only people of 35 and older can be vaccinated at that time.

You do not need to wait for an appointment by SMS. There are now sufficient vaccines for you to go and get vaccinated immediately. You can also pre-book your appointment online https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za/ or call 0800 029 999 to make a booking.

You do not need to wait for an appointment by  SMS. There are now sufficient vaccines for you to go and get vaccinated immediately. You can also pre-book your appointment online https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za/ or call 0800 029 999 to make a booking.

You do not need to wait for an appointment by  SMS. There are now sufficient vaccines for you to go and get vaccinated immediately. You can also pre-book your appointment online https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za/ or call 0800 029 999 to make a booking.

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.

You do not need to wait for an appointment by  SMS. There are now sufficient vaccines for you to go and get vaccinated immediately. You can also pre-book your appointment online https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za/ or call 0800 029 999 to make a booking.

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

If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to change the booking for your vaccination.

If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

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 35 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.

Uber is  committed to helping as many people as possible receive a vaccination during this critical time, and want to help ensure that transport isn’t a barrier to getting vulnerable people to their COVID-19 vaccination.

In partnership with MasterCard, Uber is covering 2 free trips (up to R100 each) to and from select vaccination centres across the country.

Click on the voucher code on the Uber site (www.uber.com/en-ZA/blog/were-offering-up-to-r100-off-2-trips-to-or-from-vaccination-centres/.

Once you receive a voucher by SMS or email, just tap the link and follow the steps in the guide to accept and redeem them.

Yes, in order to use the voucher, you need to download the UBER app

Click here to download for Android
Click here to download for Apple

Uber is covering 2 free trips (up to R100 each) to and from select vaccination centres across the country.

Tap on the redemption link sent to you to claim the voucher. It will be saved to your Uber account for use when it’s eligible

Once you’ve entered your destination during an eligible time frame the voucher will automatically appear on the ride request screen, directly above the “Choose…” button. You also can view voucher details in your Uber app by selecting the Menu bar, tap Wallet, scroll down and tap Vouchers

The voucher is valid until 11:59PM, 31 December 2021

Trips must start or end at select vaccination centres

On Voting Day, Monday 1 November 2021, this includes almost 1000 pop-up vaccination sites near voting stations https://sacoronavirus.co.za/active-vaccination-sites-iec-voting-stations/

No, vouchers do not cover tips for the driver partners.

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

If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

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 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. If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment.

To do this:

  • Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  • Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  • You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

Alternatively, you can simply walk into a vaccination site to get your vaccine.

If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

f you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

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.

However, If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

You can attend any vaccination site. If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can even choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

You can attend any vaccination site. If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can even choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

The South African government has made sure that every employee gets paid time off on the day allocated for vaccination by the EVDS.

You will just need to show proof of vaccination and that you had your vaccination during work hours. You can prove this using your vaccination certificate.

Most people will feel fine post-vaccination and have minimal side effects, so they will not require any time off work. However, if you have side effects and feel too unwell to go to work, you will be granted sick leave according to your standard policy. In most workplaces, this means visiting your doctor for a doctor’s note if you require more than two days off in a row.

Common side effects which can occur after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine include pain, swelling or redness, where the vaccine was injected. Mild fever, chills, feeling tired, having a headache and muscle and joint pains. These effects should only last between two and three days.

However, if you develop any more serious side effects like swelling of the face and throat, a rash, fast heart rate, or difficulty breathing, you must urgently seek medical attention. These side effects are very rare.

There is no official recommendation on this, but most experts agree that this is not something to worry about, provided you only drink the safe daily amount in the days after vaccination (two drinks per day for men and one drink for women).

However, it is important to remember that alcohol consumed in excess can negatively affect your immune system.

It is also worth noting that if you have side effects from the vaccine, like muscle aches and headaches, alcohol is likely to make these worse.

A trio of experts weigh in on this topic, please click here to read the article

Yes, it is safe to exercise after having the COVID-19 vaccine, provided you feel up to doing so. However, if you feel any side effects it is probably best to wait until these have resolved before you start your regime again.

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 15 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 medical aid, the cost of the vaccine will be covered by the 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 specific categories of the workforce and over 35s. 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.

We apologise for the inconvenience of this.

If you have access to the Internet, and are registered, you can choose when and where to get vaccinated or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

Alternatively, you can walk into another vaccination site and they will assist you.

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 0800 029 999 or report the event in the MedSafety app (https://medsafety.sahpra.org.za/).

Side-effects from the vaccine usually develop eight to 24 hours after the injection. Common side-effects include fever, light-headedness, chills, muscle aches and pains, headaches or nausea. These side-effects usually respond very well to paracetamol and don’t last more than a day or two.

If, on the other hand, you experience a dry cough, loss of smell or taste, a sore throat or any of the above symptoms that don’t resolve after a day or two, these may not be related to the vaccine and a COVID-19 test should be performed or medical attention sought.

click here to read a short article about Covid-19 symptoms and vaccine side effects

In the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulator Agency run a ‘yellow card’ system to assess side effects from drugs, herbal medicines or vaccinations. This is a passive surveillance system where anyone can report side-effects. This system in the UK has detected a possible link between COVID-19 vaccination and menstrual abnormalities.

This is worth investigating, however, the changes to menstrual cycle all appear to be temporary, with the cycle returning to normal shortly afterwards. Most significantly, there is no evidence of any effect on fertility.

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/ or download it from your app store.

Yes, 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.

If you have access to the Internet, and the second appointment you receive does not suit you, you can choose when and where to get the second vaccine or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

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.

If you have access to the Internet, and the second appointment you receive does not suit you, you can choose when and where to get the second vaccine or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also  call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

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 with an appointment.

If you haven’t received your second dose SMS, please go to any vaccination site to receive your second vaccination.

If you have access to the Internet, you can choose when and where to get the second vaccine or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

You can receive your second dose at any vaccination site. 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.

If you have access to the Internet, and the second appointment you receive does not suit you, you can choose when and where to get the second vaccine or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

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.

However, if you have access to the Internet, and the second appointment you receive does not suit you, you can choose when and where to get the second vaccine or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

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. 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.

If you have access to the Internet, and the second appointment you receive does not suit you, you can choose when and where to get the second vaccine or change your vaccination appointment. To do this:

  •   Go to https://vaccine.booking.health.gov.za
  •   Make sure you have the ID, non-RSA Passport number or Asylum Seeker/Refugee Number you used to register.
  •   You will need to be able to receive a one-time pin (OTP SMS) on the cellphone number you used when you registered.

You can also call 0800 029 999 to make or change a booking for your vaccination.

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 by calling 0800 029 999. 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.

The COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate available from 8 October 2021 does not include an expiry date.

Additional features such as a scannable QR code and digital (cryptographic) signatures will be gradually phased in. The Department of Health will advise on the availability of newer versions of the COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate as they become available.

The next version of the Digital COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate will be ready towards the end of October 2021

The COVID-19 Vaccine Passport linked to a mobile application will be ready towards the end of November 2021

Yes, provided that it is the same number from the ID Document you used when you registered on the EVDS Portal and what was used at the vaccination site.

You can phone the COVID-19 Public Hotline at 0800 029 999. The agent will be able to provide you with the vaccination code or resend you the SMS with the required code.

The Vaccination Certificate system is only accessible to the individuals who have received One  Dose of the J&J or Two doses of the Pfizer COVID 19 Vaccine.

There are three possible reasons:

  1. The SMS did not reach you due to mobile network issues at the time.
  2. Your mobile number is not correct on EVDS.
  3. Your vaccination record was not captured on the EVDS at the time of vaccination.
    You can verify this by calling the COVID-19 Public Hotline at 0800 029 999.
    If the agent cannot confirm your vaccination record on the EVDS, you should contact the site where you were vaccinated to capture your record on the system.

The Department of Health will advise when the readable QR code is activated. You will be required to update your certificate once it becomes available.

Most countries should accept the Digital COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate. However, it depends on the policy of the country you are visiting and verification requirements. You should present this certificate along with your passport. Your RSA ID number is printed in your South African Passport to allow for verification of the ID number.

 

It is your responsibility or the person registering you on your behalf to ensure that your information is captured correctly when registering for vaccination. This information should be verified and can further be corrected at the vaccination site before the vaccine is administered.

You can call the COVID-19 Public Hotline at 0800 029 999 where an agent will be able to correct your details.

The content of the QR code on the current version of the COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate is not human readable. The QR Code on the next version of the certificate can be scanned by travel authorities and third parties to verify the validity and authenticity of the COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate

The name of the vaccine is published on the COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate.

Johnson and Johnson is the manufacturer of the Janssen vaccine.

Pfizer is the manufacturer of the Comirnaty vaccine

You can send an email with the details to be changed to evdsqueries@health.gov.za. One of the agents will contact you.

The COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate will only show the information that was captured on the EVDS in South Africa. If you received one of your vaccinations in another country, you will have to provide the certificates from both countries as proof of your full vaccination status.

Network Issues occur when the server is temporarily unreachable due to system updates, traffic or your network is down and not connecting. Please change your network or device and then try again later.

The QR Code generated is not intended to be readable by the general public, it is meant to be used by entities requiring to verify the certificate’s validity, using a Vaccine Certificate System inbuilt QR scanner

Fifty plus and not yet vaccinated? We have good news for you! Go get vaccinated during the month of November and you will automatically receive a Vooma Vaccination Voucher valued at Two Hundred Rand. Click here to find out more

The gift of greatest value is the free vaccination, because that will protect you from the serious impact that Covid-19 can have on your health and on the well-being of your family.

Vooma Vouchers are only available to people aged 50 or older, because they are at highest risk of getting very sick or dying from Covid-19.  Younger people can get very sick too. That is why we’re asking everyone to get vaccinated, but we must first make it easier for older people to get their vaccinations.

The gift of greatest value is the free vaccination, because that protects you from the serious impact that Covid-19 can have on your health and on the well-being of your family.  We have introduced the R200 Vooma Voucher to assist people who have not yet come forward because they might have challenges in paying the taxi fare or other costs.  If we can get all people over 50 years to come forward, we will all benefit and the economy will begin to open up again.  That is why we now have to focus on those people who have not yet come forward for vaccination.

Unfortunately not.  You are now partially protected against Covid-19 infection, although you will only be fully protected once you have had your second dose.  But given the funding that we have available, we must focus on those who are at highest risk i.e. those people aged 50+ who have had no vaccination at all.

Thank you for having been vaccinated! We know that you may have had to pay out of your own pocket for taxi fare or other costs. But you must remember that the gift of greatest value is the free vaccination, and since your vaccination, you have already been protected from the serious impact that Covid-19 can have had on your health and on the well-being of your family.  Older people who have not been vaccinated will be at serious risk when the 4th wave hits, and giving them R200 to make it easier for them to get vaccinated is a small price to pay to help us protect them and their families.

The vouchers can be spent at any Shoprite, Checkers or Usave store.

If you already have a free Shoprite Money Market account, your voucher will automatically be put in your account for you to spend. If you haven’t registered for the Money Market Account, you can either register by cellphone (USSD, WhatsApp or mobile App) or at the Money Market kiosk in the store. This will ensure that if you miss or lose your voucher SMS, your voucher can be re-issued your voucher.  In this way, we can guarantee that you will get your voucher to the value of R100 – even if you miss the SMS or delete it by accident.

Once you are registered for the Money Market Account, you can gift the voucher to a family member or friend who lives closer to a Shoprite, Checkers or Usave store. But remember, the voucher can only be redeemed once.

The Vooma Voucher is valid for 30 days after you receive it as an SMS on your cellphone.  After that it will expire and you won’t be able to get a new one.

This offer will last until the end of December 2021 or until vouchers run out, whichever comes first. So, don’t wait, go straight to a vaccination site near you.

If you claimed and got your R100 voucher in November we have a surprise for you and will send you and extra R100 voucher in the same way we did with your first voucher.

Contact Shoprite toll free helpline on 080 001 0709. They will assist.  Remember, the voucher can only be used once, and only at Shoprite, Checkers or Usave.

Special cases

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.

Yes, if you did not get vaccinated yet, you will need to register on the EVDS system and follow the general population vaccination process.

Vaccination opens for everyone 12-17 years old on Wednesday the 20th of October 2021.
Should my teen vaccinate? Read more from Dr Fanaroff here

From the 20th of October, all those aged between 12 and 17 years of age will be able to register for vaccination and attend vaccination sites to receive their vaccine.
To register you can use either a birth certificate, or ID if you are a South African citizen, or a passport if you are a foreign national.

Those between the ages of 12-17 will receive one dose of the Pfizer vaccine at this time. The decision to give the second dose will be made at a later stage once more evidence of benefit and harm become available

The South African Health Products Authority (SAHPRA) has not registered J&J or approved its use in persons under the age of 18 and therefore only the Pfizer vaccine will be given to those under 18 years.

The COVID-19 vaccination can help protect your child from getting COVID-19. Children can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, can get sick from COVID-19, and can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others. Getting your child vaccinated helps to protect your child and your family.

Children between the ages of 12 and 17 years will only receive ONE dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

No. It is possible for a child between the ages of 12 and 17 years to go for vaccination at a health service without their parent’s consent.

You are able to get vaccinated at all public and private vaccination sites that have the Pfizer vaccine in stock.

Several vaccines used globally are not yet used in South Africa, such as AstraZeneca, Moderna, Sputnik and Sinovac. Therefore, we are unable to provide
second doses of these vaccines. South Africa cannot give a vaccination certification for doses not administered here.

Instead, we can offer one dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least 6 weeks after the last vaccination dose to complete the two dose regimen, as there is evidence that the
Pfizer vaccine combines well with these other types, particularly Moderna and AstraZeneca.

If you have received one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, you are regarded as fully vaccinated.

It is recommended that immunecompromised individuals should receive an additional Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson vaccine dose at least 28 days after
receiving the last dose.

The additional vaccine dose should be of the same vaccine as the initial dose (or doses).

Immunocompromised individuals include those on long term oral steroid therapy for autoimmune conditions; those with haematological or immune  malignancies; those with solid organ or bone marrow transplants; those on renal dialysis; and those with primary immunological disorders.

However, this is to be decided and administered only after a referral from the medical doctor who supervises their care.

Frequently Asked Questions for the J&J Booster Dose for Sisonke Study Participants

Find out more and get the latest updates for the Sisonke2 program here

Only healthcare workers vaccinated as part of the Sisonke study will be eligible to receive the booster dose.

No, you cannot get a booster shot if you have already accessed a booster vaccination through other means.

No, you cannot get the Booster shot if your dose of J&J was received outside of the Sisonke trial.

The study will target healthcare workers because they were the first to be vaccinated, and are at greater risk of infection owing to their work in caring for others who may be infected.

Sisonke study participants will be offered a booster dose of Janssen® (J&J) vaccine

The purpose of the study is to establish whether a booster dose, given 6 – 8 months after the primary schedule, provides significantly improved protection against COVID-19 infection.

The programme is anticipated to start on the 8th November 2021.

Do not re–register on EVDS. Sisonke participants will be sent an SMS indicating that they are eligible to receive the booster dose, and be provided with a link to the list of sites which will offer the vaccination. They will be required to provide informed consent to participate in this next phase of the study.

The new vaccination voucher number will begin with the letters BD- (Booster Dose)

Do not re-register on EVDS. Call 0800 029 999, or email info@vaccinesupport.org.za or fill in the support form https://sacoronavirus.co.za/evds/support/ and request to update your cell phone number

The booster doses will be administered at selected public and private vaccination sites. Sisonke participants will receive a list of available sites offering the booster vaccination.

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. The weekly Social Listening reports also highlight true facts and misinformation, available https://sacoronavirus.co.za/category/academic-articles/

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