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Vaccinated people urged to report all severe side-effects

13 August 2021 - 09:39 By amanda khoza
South Africans have been asked to seek treatment if they experience adverse effects after having the Covid-19 vaccine.
South Africans have been asked to seek treatment if they experience adverse effects after having the Covid-19 vaccine.
Image: 123RF/David Izquierdo Roger

If you experience adverse effects after the Covid-19 vaccine, report them and seek treatment.

That was the plea on Friday from Prof Hannelie Meyer, the head of the SA Vaccination and Immunisation Centre (Savic) at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Pretoria.

“People should seek treatment when they experience symptoms of concern and they should not assume that these symptoms are reactions to the vaccines,” said Meyer.

Speaking during a health ministry media briefing, she said symptoms could be coincidental after receiving the vaccine or there could be something seriously wrong.

“For example, if the person is coughing it could be tuberculosis (TB) or community-acquired pneumonia and it could also be an underlying Covid-19 infection," she said.

“It is important for the public to know that for the vaccines we are currently using in SA, there were more than 43,000 volunteers in the phase three trials and this means that by the time they were authorised we already knew the short-term side-effects.

“People can rest assured that only if there is sufficient scientific evidence of vaccine safety and efficacy will the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) authorise the vaccines to be used.”

The J&J and Pfizer vaccines being administered are no longer in the clinical trial phase, “so it is very important to monitor the safety of the vaccines, as we are using them now in the real world". 

Meyer said uncommon or rare reactions appear in about one in a million cases, so no clinical trial can be expected to detect them.

“There may be rare events after the vaccines have been registered and authorised but you have to weigh up the risk of experiencing those rare events, which is extremely small, compared to the huge risk of getting the Covid-19 disease,” she said.

Any health problem after the jab is considered an adverse event but it does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the vaccine, she explained. 

Most South Africans who have taken the jab experience minor adverse events shortly after getting vaccinated, but they should clear after two to three days, according to Meyer.

“We have seen that they are intense and more noticeable in the younger population, those who have had Covid-19 before and after the second dose of the vaccine. It is important to seek medical assistance if these reactions become more severe or long-lasting.”

Serious adverse findings are rare and  can lead to hospitalisation, birth defect, disability or death.