Why vaccination is safe and important

Why is vaccination against COVID-19 so important?

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

A well respected physician based at a Groote Schuur in Cape Town has recently gone on record to state that his ICU / high care has not seen any vaccinated individuals for care. Mediclinic has experienced similar trends within our unit.

So in addition to personal protection, the vaccine also allows our healthcare facilities to focus on the seriously ill, without additional numbers from COVID-19 infections.

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

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

Will the vaccine stop me getting COVID-19?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it safe to receive the vaccine during pregnancy?

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

How do I get my vaccine?

What time does your vaccination centre open?

By visiting the list of vaccination centres, you can access the dates, times, type of vaccine available and address of your closest vaccination centre (https://www.mediclinic.co.za/en/corporate/corona-virus/vaccination-centres.html)

How can I book an appointment?

You can visit our easy to navigate booking system (LINKED) and select a date and time most suitable to you. You can also adjust the appointment if this is necessary, to avoid wasting a vaccination slot for another individual.

Can I choose which vaccine I receive?

Both vaccines available in South Africa have been proven to be effective in reducing both serious illness and death from COVID-19. Each of our vaccination centres administers only one type vaccine (this may be Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson) depending on which vaccine has been allocated by the Department of Health. However, you can view what type of vaccine is being offered at a particular facility by visiting our list of vaccination centres. Johnson & Johnson is a single dose vaccine, while Pfizer requires two doses.

Does Mediclinic accept uninsured patients for vaccination?

Yes, Mediclinic accepts both insured and uninsured individuals. When a member of the public, who does not have medical aid, receives the vaccine, the fee is claimed from the Department of Health. Insured patients will be covered as a prescribed minimum benefit by their medical aid. No payment is made at a vaccination centre.

Does Mediclinic accept walk-ins?

Yes, but this is only a small number of the vaccinations we perform each day. We recommend visiting our online portal and making an appointment for vaccination. Booking reduces your time spent in the queue as well as ensuring we have stock on hand for your vaccination.

Why is my medical aid charged for my vaccine?

Mediclinic purchases vaccines from the Department of Health. An agreement between your medical aid and the Department of Health was reached to cover the cost of your vaccination. Any further information can be obtained directly from your medical aid.

Find the facts around vaccination

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

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

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

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

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

Fact: Vaccines prevent diseases and do not cause them

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

Fact: Vaccines contain chemicals that we encounter every day

Some people worry that 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.