Brought to you by Medinformer

COVID-19 – Vaccines

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving disease; information may change as management of this disease develops and improves. Medinformer aims to bring you up-to-date information from verified sources. Last revised: 18 March 2021

 

Back to top

HOW DO VACCINES WORK?

Vaccines save millions of lives each year.10a Vaccines are intended to provide immunity by training the body’s immune system to recognise and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target.2a,b After vaccination, if the body is later exposed to those disease-causing germs, the body is immediately ready naturally fight these organisms, preventing illness.10a

Back to top

THE GLOBAL COVID-19 VACCINE SITUATION

Global roll-out

As of 18 February 2021, at least seven different vaccines across three platforms have been rolled out in different countries. Vulnerable populations in all countries are the highest priority for vaccination.10b At the same time, more than 200 additional vaccine candidates are in development, of which more than 60 are in clinical development. 10c

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is working with partners around the world to help coordinate key steps in this development process, including to facilitate equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the billions of people who will need them.1a

Back to top

SAFETY OF THE COVID-19 VACCINE

Before administration, vaccines must be proven safe and effective in large clinical trials (which includes people with a high risk for contracting COVID-19). COVID-19 vaccines go through meticulous, multi-stage testing processes formulated to identify the side-effect profile of the vaccine and other safety concerns.  Once the COVID-19 vaccine is declared safe and effective, independent reviewers discuss the efficacy and safety evidence required, including regulatory review and approval boards in each manufacturing country.1a

Possible side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccine

Like most vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine can cause mild to moderate side-effects.9a These adverse effects are considered to be short-lasting.9b,d More serious and long-lasting adverse effects are extremely rare.9c Common reactions include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Diarrhoea
  • Pain or local reaction at the injection site
Back to top

WHEN IS NOT ADVISABLE TO GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE?

Your nurse or doctor will be able to advise you whether you are eligible for the vaccine, or not. Vaccination is not advised if:

  • You have a history of allergic or severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the COVID-19 VACCINE.
  • You are currently sick, experiencing a fever or experiencing other COVID-19 symptoms. Vaccination can commence once these primary symptoms have resolved.
Back to top

COVID-19 VACCINES IN SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa officially received 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine at the beginning of February 2021.2c However, the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine was stopped by the South African Government due to efficacy concerns against the new COVID-19 variant (501Y.V2).3b, 14d New data showed the vaccine offered minimal protection against mild-to-moderate illness in patients infected with the new variant that is currently dominant in the country.3c

The pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson (J&J) applied for emergency authorisation at the beginning of February from SAHPRA,3a as recent studies have proven that their single dose vaccine provides high efficacy4a against the new COVID strain. The first batch of 80 000 J&J vaccines arrived in South Africa on 16 February 2021.5b,6a To date, this vaccine is the only single dose vaccination available, an advantage given how complex a logistical exercise the mass vaccination campaign will be.7a

Due to the fact that the J&J vaccine is being studied in the South African population, an extension on the study was approved and early access granted to South African research sites6b by SAHPRA, making South Africa the first country to administer the J&J vaccine before it is officially licensed.8a The J&J vaccine provides 85 % protection against severe disease based on evidence from the clinical trials that included South African participants.11b

The South African government has secured 11 million doses of the J&J vaccine, of which another 80 000 arrived on 27 February 2021,14b,e 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and is in the process of securing 12 million vaccine doses from Covax to assist in the country’s risk adjusted strategy to prevent further spread of COVID-19.14c

Vaccination Programmes in South Africa

The vaccination programme with the J&J vaccine, also known as The Sisonke Early Access Programme,11b was launched on 17 February 20215a and will continuously follow a mass three-phase roll-out approach, beginning with frontline healthcare workers in the private and public sector.6e

The Department of Health indicated, that as of the end of 15 March 2021, 147 753 private and public healthcare workers have already been successfully vaccinated.19a 42 vaccination sites has been established.18b In total, 49 vaccination sites are expected, with 32 at public and 17 at private hospitals.14f

Phase two will see the vaccination of other frontline workers, people older than 18 years with comorbidities and over 60 years, starting late April or early May.14g Everyone aged 18 years and older who has not been vaccinated will get the shot during phase three6c with a target to vaccinate 43 million people14a (67 % of the population) by the end of 2021 to ultimately achieve population immunity.2d, 5c

How does the J&J vaccine work?

To understand more about how COVID-19 vaccines work, you must first know how vaccines are developed. There are three different ways to make a vaccine:16a,c

  • Use a whole virus16b
  • Use parts of the virus that trigger the immune system
  • Use just the genetic material of the virus16f

When using the whole virus approach, you can make an inactivated vaccine, or a live-attenuated vaccine, or a viral-vector vaccine, as follows:16b

  • Inactivated vaccine

The vaccine uses an inactivated or killed virus.16k 

Influenza (flu) vaccine and Polio.16j

  • Live-attenuated vaccine

The vaccine uses a living but weakened version of the virus.16l

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and chickenpox vaccines.16l

  • Viral-vector vaccine

The vaccine uses an inactivated or killed virus.16k The vaccine uses a living but weakened version of the virus.16l
This vaccine uses a harmless virus (not the disease-causing virus) to deliver specific proteins of the disease-causing virus that trigger an immune response without causing disease.16d

Ebola, J&J COVID-19 vaccine15a,16d

The J&J vaccine is categorised as a viral vector vaccine.15a To create this vaccine, a harmless adenovirus is used as the viral vector and a small piece of this virus’s genetic material is replaced with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.16b When injected, the person’s immune system will notice these foreign spike proteins and make antibodies against them that will protect the person if they are ever exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in the future.16c,d The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein can’t cause COVID-19 illness without the rest of the virus.16e The AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine is also an adenovirus viral vector vaccine.16k

How does the Pfizer vaccine work?

The Pfizer vaccine is a type of vaccine that uses the genetic material of the virus. It is called a ‘mRNA vaccine’ (mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid, a type of genetic material).15f This type of vaccine delivers a specific set of instructions to our cells to make the specific protein for our immune system to recognise and respond to.16i This is a new way of developing vaccines.16m

At the time of testing, the Pfizer vaccine was reported to be approximately 95 % effective at preventing illness from COVID-19.15i This is the vaccine that requires cold storage requirements.15h

This information was last updated on the 15 March 2021. For more information on the vaccines available in South Africa please speak to your healthcare professional.

 

Back to top

ROUTINE VACCINATIONS FOR YOUR CHILD DURING COVID-19

Child immunisation is considered an essential health service.22a Health experts still highly recommend that immunisation visits should continue without interruption22b and that babies and children should receive routine vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they protect from serious, and sometimes life-threatening diseases including measles and the rotavirus.20a,22a,23a

Due to COVID-19 preventative measures, it is necessary to follow-up with your healthcare provider before immunisation appointments to ensure the proper procedures for specific institutions are adhered to.20b,23b Contact between individuals should still be kept to a minimum. Hand hygiene is of vital importance and cloth masks are still compulsory with each visit.22b

Back to top

CONSIDERATIONS FOR PREGNANT INDIVIDUALS AND THE COVID-19 VACCINE

Pregnant women are considered to have a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease.24a COVID-19 is also associated with an increased risk of pre-term birth.21b,24a COVID-19 vaccines have not been tested in pregnant women and due to insufficient data, the WHO does not recommend the vaccination of pregnant women at this point.21a,24b If a pregnant and breastfeeding woman falls within a high-risk group (e.g. healthcare worker) that is recommended for vaccination due to an unavoidable high-risk exposure to the COVID-19 virus, vaccination can be considered upon advice from their healthcare provider.24c Breastfeeding mothers are advised to continue breastfeeding after vaccination.24d

For medical advice or further information, please consult your healthcare provider.

24-hour hotline number is: 0800 029 999

WHO – World Health Organisation; J&J – Johnson and Johnson; SAHPRA – South African Health Products Regulatory Authority

Medical References

⦁ World Health Organisation. COVID-19 vaccines. Available at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/covid-19-vaccines Last accessed: 22 January 2021.
⦁ National Department of Health (NDoH). COVID-19 Coronavirus South African Resource Portal. Vaccine News, Updates & Information Portal. Available at: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/vaccine-updates/ Last accessed 22 January 2021.
⦁ South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) News. J&J applies for COVID-19 vaccine emergency authorization from SA. Available at: https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/jj-applies-for-covid-19-vaccine-emergency-authorisation-from-sa/ Last accessed 9 February 2021.
⦁ Eyewitness News (EWN). COVID-19 vaccine rollout expected to begin on Wednesday – SA medical association. Available at: https://ewn.co.za/2021/02/16/covid-19-vaccine-rollout-expected-to-begin-on-wednesday-sa-medical-association Last accessed 17 February 2021.
⦁ National Department of Health (NDoH). COVID-19 Coronavirus South African Resource Portal. News, Updates & Information Portal. Statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on arrival of J&J COVID vaccine. Available at: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/2021/02/17/statement-by-president-cyril-ramaphosa-on-arrival-of-jj-covid-vaccine/ Last accessed 17 February 2021.
⦁ Times Live. SOUTH AFRICA: Rollout of Covid-19 vaccine is underway across SA. Available at: https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2021-02-17-rollout-of-covid-19-vaccine-is-underway-across-sa/ Last accessed: 17 February 2021.
⦁ Independent Online News (IOL). PICS & VIDEO: First batch of J&J Covid-19 vaccines arrives in SA. Available at: https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/pics-and-video-first-batch-of-j-and-j-covid-19-vaccines-arrives-in-sa-e229e9d3-5021-408f-9bd3-2d84527ab174 Last accessed: 17 February 2021.
⦁ Eyewitness News (EWN). SA set to kickstart COVID-19 vaccinations as J&J jabs arrive. Available at: https://ewn.co.za/2021/02/17/sa-set-to-kickstart-covid-19-vaccinations-after-j-and-j-jabs-arrive Last accessed: 17 February 2021.
⦁ World Health Organization (WHO). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Vaccines safety. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-vaccines-safety Last accessed 23 February 2021.
⦁ World Health Organization (WHO). COVID-19 vaccines. Available at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/covid-19-vaccines Last accessed: 23 February 2021.
⦁ National Department of Health (NDoH). COVID-19 Coronavirus South African Resource Portal. News, Updates & Information Portal. Media Statement: Public and private sector collaboration boosts vaccination. Available at: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/2021/02/21/media-statement-public-and-private-sector-collaboration-boosts-vaccination/ Last accessed: 23 February 2021.
⦁ National Department of Health (NDoH). COVID-19 Coronavirus South African Resource Portal. News, Updates & Information Portal. Media Statement: South Africa reaches its first vaccination milestone early. Available at: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/2021/02/27/south-africa-reaches-its-first-vaccination-milestone-early/ Last accessed: 2 March 2021.
⦁ National Department of Health (NDoH). COVID-19 Coronavirus South African Resource Portal. News, Updates & Information Portal. Media Statement: Second batch of Johnson and Johnson vaccines arrive in SA. Available at: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/2021/02/27/second-batch-of-johnson-and-johnson-vaccines-arrival-in-sa/ Last accessed: 2 March 2021.
⦁ Independent Online News (IOL). SA has secured more than 40 million Covid-19 vaccine doses – Ramaphosa. Available at: https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/sa-has-secured-more-than-40-million-covid-19-vaccine-doses-ramaphosa-548c534c-77fe-44de-a0be-02f0528317c7 Last accessed: 2 March 2021.
⦁ Independent Online News (IOL). How does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine compare to other Covid-19 vaccines? How does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine compare to other Covid-19 vaccines? Available at: https://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/health/how-does-johnson-and-johnson-vaccine-compare-to-other-covid-19-vaccines-4-questions-answered-ac2acc5b-d874-4d01-8103-f70bf7731603 Last accessed: 2 March 2021.
⦁ World Health Organization (WHO). The different types of COVID-19 vaccines. Available at: ⦁ https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/the-race-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-explained?utm_source=facebook⦁ &⦁ utm_medium=landingpageviews⦁ &⦁ utm_campaign=vaccinebls⦁ &⦁ fbclid=PAAaa62uCOWWg1kCfZYvC4ejgBjAcLYW1xk-4IqwNZyeekU4MNza_lhOlgK0A Last accessed 9 March 2021.
⦁ National Department of Health (NDoH). COVID-19 Webpage. Media Statement: 6 March 2021. Available at: http://www.health.gov.za/covid19/media/press-release.html Last accessed 9 March 2021.
⦁ National Department of Health (NDoH). COVID-19 Webpage. Vaccine Rollout Milestone – Media Statement: 6 March 2021. http://www.health.gov.za/covid19/media/press-release.html Last accessed 9 March 2021.

  1. National Department of Health (NDoH). COVID-19 Coronavirus South African Resource Portal. Vaccine News, Updates & Information Portal. Press release: Update on Covid-19 (15th March 2021). Available at: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/2021/03/15/update-on-covid-19-15th-march-2021/ Last accessed: 16 March 2021.
  2. Vaccinate your family. VYF COVID-19 Graphics, Videos and Educational Handouts. Available at: https://149400146.v2.pressablecdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Facebook-routinevaccinesduringpandemic.png Last accessed: 16 March 2021.
  3. Vaccinate your family. VYF COVID-19 Graphics, Videos and Educational Handouts. Available at: https://149400146.v2.pressablecdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Insta-Pregnant-women-and-covid-19-vaccine-1b.png Last accessed: 16 March 2021.
  4. National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). Routine immunisation services to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Available at: https://www.nicd.ac.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/NICD-Guidance-on-routine-immunisation-services-for-public.pdf Last accessed: 16 March 2021.
  5. UNICEF. Routine vaccinations during COVID-19: What parents need to know. How to safely get routine vaccinations for your child during the COVID-19 pandemic. Available at:

https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/vaccinations-and-covid-19-what-parents-need-know Last accessed: 16 March 2021.

  1. World Health Organisation (WHO). Who can take the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine? Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/who-can-take-the-pfizer-biontech-covid-19–vaccine?adgroupsurvey={adgroupsurvey}&gclid=Cj0KCQjwrsGCBhD1ARIsALILBYoQ5FdsAoWcDJEcX9E4IzYPVjoYal1JtHnaOHejBJXKbLBK26VrhnwaAiK9EALw_wcB Last accessed: 16 March 2021.
Head
Chest
Abdomen
Pelvis
Legs
Feet
Mental Health
Skin
General
Infant Health

For more health information

Click on the body area you want to know more about. Select a related health topic from the menu

Select a body area

RECENT BROCHURE

Bacterial Vaginosis

Vaginal Discharge & Bacterial VaginosisA Guide for Women

RECENT BROCHURE

Scars and Stretch marks

Boosting and maintaining your skin’s elasticity is one of the best ways to prevent the formation of stretch marks.

RECENT BROCHURE

Diabetes – testing blood glucose levels at home

Why is it important to test your blood sugar when you have diabetes? 

RECENT BROCHURE

Pregnancy Skincare Advice

Discover healthy and nourished skin through the power of oil.

RECENT BROCHURE

COVID-19 – Vaccines

Information on the COVID-19 Vaccines