Here are some answers to questions you might have about the COVID-19 vaccine …
Where can I get vaccinated?
The UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, open 8.30 am to 3.30 pm, Monday to Friday; in Broad Street, off Main Rd (M4) in Mowbray, just next to the N2 highway. Here’s the Google Maps link: Broad St
The nearest Jammie stop is Obz Square (walk over the highway; 200 m, ~3 minutes). You can also get there from the Forest Hill Jammie stop (go 200 m down Osborne Rd, turn left into Main Rd, walk 200 m until you reach Broad St on your left).
Here’s what Broad St looks like from Main Rd (Forest Hill res on left):
No, you do not need to pay nor do you need Medical Aid because vaccines are free to everyone; whether you are South African or from elsewhere, you just need to bring a form of identity ( eg. ID document; or passport). If you are on medical aid, bring your details along, but it doesn’t matter if you aren’t.
How does the vaccine work?
The vaccine does NOT contain any Covid-19. Instead, the Pfizer vaccine contains a messenger RNA fragment (mRNA) that gives instructions for a cell to make a harmless piece of ‘spike protein’. The cell displays this spike protein on its surface. Your immune system recognizes that the spike protein doesn’t belong there, so begins an immune response and makes antibodies.
Thus your body learns how to protect against infection by a spike protein. This means that, if you get infected with the Covid-19 virus, your body recognises the spike protein on the Covid-19 virus and has an effective immune response, thus protecting you against serious illness or death. The vaccine naturally disintegrates after doing its job, within a few days.
Most people will have a sore and slightly swollen arm for a few days but will feel fine thereafter. Some people may have sore muscles, feel a little tired, have a headache or may feel hot. These feelings mean that the vaccination is working and they will disappear in one or two days. You should, however, always discuss any side-effects with a healthcare provider who will guide you.
Do I need the vaccine if I've already had Covid-19?
Yes. Research suggests that the natural immunity from having COVID does not provide protection as good as that following vaccination. The vaccination boosts your immune system’s response to a future Covid-19 infection.
Are there any reasons to NOT get vaccinated (yet)?
If you have had COVID, you should wait 30 days after your symptoms started. If you currently are in quarantine because of exposure to someone with COVID, you should wait until you have completed your quarantine period, before getting vaccinated.
What about other medical conditions?
If you are an adult with an underlying medical condition, you have a greater risk of severe illness from COVID, thus should get vaccinated. No underlying medical condition is a reason for not being vaccinated.
If you have previously suffered a severe allergy or anaphylaxis to a vaccination, medication or food, you should consult your usual doctor before receiving the vaccine.
Immunosuppressive disorders (e.g. HIV, cancer) mean your body is more at risk from Covid-19 and so it is important to get vaccinated.
Bleeding disorder: as with any injection, there is a small risk of bleeding at the injection site. Speak to the person who administers the vaccine so that they can take precautions such as applying prolonged pressure after the injection.
If you are pregnant, you can have the vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy. Covid-19 can be serious during pregnancy, especially in those with pre-existing hypertension, diabetes or obesity, so you want all the protection you can get.