Your Covid-19 questions answered

Will I still get severe Covid-19 symptoms after taking the vaccine?

06 August 2021 - 07:00 By cebelihle bhengu
You can still get Covid-19 even after getting vaccinated, but the symptoms should be less severe. File photo.
You can still get Covid-19 even after getting vaccinated, but the symptoms should be less severe. File photo.

Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 significantly reduces chances of severe illness should you contract the virus, say Johannesburg-based general practitioners Dr Hillary Mukudu and Marlin McKay. 

“The science tells us you can still get Covid-19 even after getting the vaccine. J&J is 66% effective, which means if 10 people are vaccinated, six won't get [Covid-19] and at least three-four people could get it.

“The difference comes in the severity of the illness and death. With having the vaccine, there's a reduction in getting a severe illness, hospitalisation and death,” said McKay.

Mukudu agreed. He said he got the single jab of the J&J vaccine in February during the Sisonke trial, through which health workers were vaccinated in the first phase of the rollout. 

In June, he tested positive for Covid-19 but did not require hospitalisation.  

“Data from the world over has clearly shown that the vaccinated can still get infected but they are less likely to have severe forms of the disease that requires hospitalisation or even ventilation. Severity is measured by hospitalisation, or even death,” he said. 

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) 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 Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US says people who get the J&J vaccine have the most protection after two weeks.

Clinical trials conducted in March showed that none of the people who got Covid-19 at least four weeks after receiving the J&J vaccine were hospitalised.