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2021 – The Year of Vaccination

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2021 - The Year of Vaccination
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As much as 2020 was the year of quarantining, 2021 is the year of vaccinating. We are so excited that vaccines have finally arrived in South Africa and we can have the opportunity of catching up to some other countries in the world.

We are so proud that 95% of all our Thrive staff have been vaccinated. We believe it is a real privilege and part of the solution to ending this pandemic in South Africa.

There are so many questions around vaccinating our population and a large degree of mistrust and hesitancy. There seem to be two very polarised main concerns – on one hand – how quickly can we get it? And the other is how do we know it’s safe? I will try and answer some of the most common questions below.

How quickly can I get the vaccine?
There is no short answer here. The people who have already been vaccinated are Health care workers. They were vaccinated as part of the Sisonke trial with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This trial was paused halfway following international concerns about clotting but was deemed safe enough to continue. The trial is now completed and the vaccine will be registered for use by the public.

The vaccine rollout to the public has begun. There aim is first to vaccinate the remaining healthcare workers and then over 60’s but starting with over 80s and then going down in age groups.

All people over 60 and healthcare workers must register on the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS) in order to get into the system to be SMS’d a booking. Only people registered on this system will be vaccinated.

There a number of ways to register on the EVDS:

1. Website

2. Whatsapp – send the word “Register” via what’s app to 0600 123 456

3. Sms – send an sms as follows: *134*832*your ID number. If you don’t have an ID number then dial *134*832# and you will get assistance

4. Call the COVID-19 hotline on 0800 029 999

What vaccine will I get?
The first rollout of vaccines will be Pfizer vaccines. These require 2 doses 3 weeks apart and have been used the most widely globally, are the most studied and seem to provide the most amount of protection. The storage conditions make it prohibitive for smaller vaccination sites like Thrive to assist in the rollout.

Which vaccine is best?
The one you can get first. The sooner you get vaccinated, the better for you, your family and loved ones.

How safe is the vaccine?
As with all medicine we take and items we put into our bodies… what is the risk vs the benefit. From our own personal experience amongst 48 vaccinated staff, symptoms ranged from nothing to a sore arm, inflamed vaccination site, fatigue, muscle aches, diarrhoea and nausea – all of which was resolved within 48 hours. The benefit of being vaccinated is that the risk of developing severe or long COVID are substantially reduced and it is has been proven around the world that the number of people hospitalised due to COVID as well as the number of deaths due to COVID is drastically diminished.

It can’t be safe as they haven’t had time to study it properly?
The use of vaccines is not new, in fact I am sure that the vast majority of you would have been vaccinated and have more than likely vaccinated your children. New vaccines and new technology such as 4in1 vaccinations have developed and become part of the vaccination schedule without most people even knowing it. The technology in the COVID vaccine is not new. This methodology was in fact being developed to use in oncology treatments. With the unprecedented spread of COVID-19, all the world’s best resources have been invested in developing and ensuring the safety of COVID vaccines. Yes, some processes have been fast tracked but there is no doubt that scientific principles and sound science has prevailed and vaccination is the world’s best solution to this pandemic.

What will it cost?
For any patients on medical aid including those only on a hospital plan, will have the costs of the vaccine as well as the costs of the administration thereof covered in full from their Prescribed Minimum Benefit – it will NOT come out of savings portion. The Medical Aid Funds will be reimburse vaccine sites at cost price for the vaccine plus a R70 administration fee. For patients not on a medical aid, state hospitals and clinics will be vaccinating and if over burdened, these patients will be directed to private sites which will be reimbursed by the department of health.

Will Thrive be vaccinating?
Yes  – Kloof, Ballito and Hilton have got qualified staff who have undergone training and are ready to vaccinate. At this stage you will not just be able to walk in and get vaccinated but would need to follow the booking system on the EVDS (government site). If you need any assistance with getting registered, please let us know. We are proud to be playing a small part in the solution to ending this pandemic and are pleased to be able to assist our communities in being Better than Well.

By: Lynda Bryant
Responsible Pharmacist & owner at Thrive | better than well