Your Covid-19 questions answered

What side effects can I expect from the Covid-19 vaccine?

13 July 2021 - 07:50
According to the ministerial advisory committee (MAC) on Covid-19 vaccines, most people who receive the jab will not experience any side effects.
According to the ministerial advisory committee (MAC) on Covid-19 vaccines, most people who receive the jab will not experience any side effects.
Image: 123RF/ssilver

As the Covid-19 vaccine programme continues to roll out across the country, some people are worried about the possible side effects of the jab.

To date, over 4m people have at least received a single shot of vaccine, and over 1m people have been fully vaccinated. 

According to the ministerial advisory committee (MAC) on Covid-19 vaccines, most people who receive the jab will not experience any side effects. 

Some people may experience tenderness or a rash at the injection site. 

Occasionally, for a day or two and rarely longer, some may experience headaches, feeling out of sorts, muscle pain or even a slight fever, which could be controlled with something like paracetamol. 

However, if you are concerned about any adverse event you should report it to a health facility, where you will receive treatment.

The MAC warned that recipients should watch out for symptoms of thrombocytopenia (a low number of platelets in the blood) or thrombotic complications (when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside your body), which include:

  • unremitting, severe headache, occurring during this time frame
  • focal neurologic symptoms such as weakness in legs, blurred vision and new onset seizures
  • new onset, persistent and unexplained abdominal pain
  • chest pain, shortness of breath and/or leg pains

The MAC said all serious adverse events reported to the Department of Health will be shared with the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) and will be presented to the National Immunisation Safety Expert Committee (Nisec) for causality assessment.

“Alternatively, SA is using the 'MedSafety' App which health workers are encouraged to use to report adverse events rather than using paper-based reporting. This data is shared with Sahpra and the department,” the MAC said. 

According to the UK's National Health Service, recipients may experience mild side effects that may not last longer than a week.

The side effects include; 

  • a sore arm from the injection
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick

“You may also get a high temperature or feel hot or shivery one or two days after your vaccination. You can take painkillers if you need to,” said the service. 


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