Your Covid-19 questions answered

What adverse effects should I watch out for after getting the vaccine & where can I report them?

05 August 2021 - 07:00 By unathi nkanjeni
Citizens are urged to report any side effects they might experience after taking the Covid-19 vaccines. File photo.
Citizens are urged to report any side effects they might experience after taking the Covid-19 vaccines. File photo.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES/ALAISTER RUSSELL

Vaccines contain different components to make them effective. However, each component in a vaccine adds a potential risk of an “adverse event”

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, an “adverse event” is any harmful health event that happens after a person receives a vaccine. 

NICD said the event may or may not be caused by a vaccine. 

Some of the adverse events after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine include stroke, a heart attack or death in a motor vehicle accident. 

“Any of these events may or may not be associated with vaccination, but all of these events are adverse events following immunisation (AEFI). An AEFI usually occurs within 28 days following vaccination,” said the NICD. 

The institute said it typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build immunity against Covid-19.

“The body’s immune system takes up to 14 days to develop strong immune responses after the first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. With the Pfizer-BioNTech there is some protection two weeks after the first dose, but the best protection is achieved after the second dose."

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), last month, reported that a comprehensive study was being undertaken to determine if AEFIs were caused by the vaccine or other medication people were taking before getting the jab.

Where and when should I report adverse events?

Citizens are urged to report any side effects they might experience after taking the Covid-19 vaccines. 

The NICD said there is no time limit to reporting an event.

“All health events after vaccination are important to investigate because vaccines are given to healthy people,” it said. 

“Therefore, while some mild and short-lasting symptoms are acceptable, moderately severe and severe side effects are not acceptable, and should be fully investigated to understand if the vaccination was responsible.

“If the public understands that all AEFIs are taken seriously, and appropriate action is taken, people will have more trust that vaccines are safe.”

Sahpra’s guidelines on health products vigilance state that anyone can report an adverse event on the authority's Med Safety App. The app is available on iOS and Android operating systems. 

“The app is designed to simplify and promote the reporting of suspected AEFIs by both the public and healthcare providers. The app also allows the public and healthcare providers to learn about medicine safety news from Sahpra, thereby creating an awareness of medicines and their potential adverse effects.”


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