What you need to know about the Covid – 19 Vaccine
Dr Thapelo Motshudi, a specialist in private practice and NMG Benefits consultant in Employee Wellness, Occupational health and other medical related topics answers a few pertinent questions about the vaccines.
Who should take the vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people 18 years and older, including those with pre-existing conditions of any kind, including auto-immune disorders. These conditions include hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver and kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled. However, please discuss your specific situation with doctor if you:
- Have a compromised immune system
- Are pregnant (if you are already breastfeeding, you should continue after vaccination)
- Have a history of severe allergies, particularly to a vaccine (or any of the ingredients in the vaccine)
- Are severely frail
Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine even if I’ve already had COVID-19?
Getting COVID-19 might offer some natural protection or immunity from reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19, but it’s not clear how long this protection lasts. Since reinfection is still possible, and COVID-19 can cause severe medical complications, it’s recommended that people who have already had COVID-19 get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Which vaccine should I take?
Take whatever vaccine is made available to you first. It is important to be vaccinated as soon as possible. While research suggests that COVID-19 vaccines have lower efficacy against new variants, the vaccines still appear to provide protection against severe COVID-19. It’s important to note that vaccine manufacturers are also creating booster shots to improve protection against variants.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
All of the approved COVID-19 vaccines have been carefully tested and continue to be monitored. Like all vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines go through a rigorous, multi-stage testing process, including large clinical trials that involve tens of thousands of people. These trials are specifically designed to identify any safety concerns.
Can children and pregnant women take the vaccine?
Trials are still ongoing to assess whether COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children, and when results become more definitive and available, the World Health Organization (WHO) and national authorities will provide updated guidance for vaccination in children. Vaccine trials targeting adults were prioritized because COVID-19 has proven to be a more serious and dangerous disease among older populations. There is inadequate data to assess vaccine safety in pregnancy. However, people at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus (such as health workers), or who have a history of underlying medical conditions that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated during pregnancy after consultation with their health care provider. There is no evidence that suggests vaccination would cause harm during pregnancy. The vaccine can be offered to those who are breastfeeding if they are part of a group recommended for vaccination (health workers, for example).
What should I expect after taking it?
Once you have been vaccinated, you must stay at that vaccination venue for at least 15 minutes. This is to monitor if you have an unusual reaction. In most cases, minor side effects are normal. Common side effects after vaccination, which indicate that a person’s body is building protection to COVID-19 infection include:
- Arm soreness
- Mild fever
- Muscle or joint aches
Contact your care provider if there is redness or pain where you got the shot that increases after 24 hours, or if side effects do not go away after a few days. If you experience an immediate severe allergic reaction to a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should not receive additional doses of the vaccine.
Can I take pain medication before or after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?
Taking painkillers such as paracetamol before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine to prevent side effects is not recommended. This is because it is not known how painkillers may affect how well the vaccine works. However, you may take paracetamol or other painkillers if you do develop side effects such as pain, fever, headache or muscle aches after vaccination.
What are possible serious side-effects?
In very rare instances some people can go on to develop severe side-effects, including blood clots, and these can present with the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
- Chest pain
- Leg swelling
If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and you develop symptoms more than three days after getting vaccinated, or the symptoms last more than two days, self-isolate and get tested.
Can I take the flu vaccine at the same time?
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV-2), which is responsible for causing Coronavirus disease or COVID-19, and the influenza virus, responsible for causing flu, both fall into the category of what are called RNA viruses. However, even though some of their symptoms overlap, they are different diseases, caused by different organisms. Therefore, you need protection against both. It is recommended that you not take both vaccines at the same time. Consider taking them at least 14 days apart. Also, do not take the flu or COVID-19 vaccines when you are actively sick with either flu or COVID-19.
What should I do after taking the vaccines?
While a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent serious illness and death, we still don’t know the extent to which it keeps you from being infected and passing the virus on to others. The more we allow the virus to spread, the more opportunity the virus has to change. Continue to take actions to slow and eventually stop the spread of the virus:
- Maintain social distancing from unvaccinated people
- Wear a mask, especially in crowded, closed, and poorly ventilated settings
- Clean your hands frequently
- Cover any cough or sneeze in your bent elbow
When indoors with others, ensure good ventilation, such as by opening a window.
The information in this communication is for information purposes and is not intended to be detailed advice described in the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act. The fund, administrator and trustees cannot be held liable for damage or loss suffered as a result of any action that you take based on the contents of this communication.
The The content of this Newsletter is not intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical, health or other condition. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.