The COVID-19 Vaccine has arrived in South Africa and the vaccine roll out has begun. No doubt as a member you will have questions about this important vaccine.
SAMWUMED has prepared comprehensive Questions and Answers that we hope will answer all the questions you may have including, safety of the vaccine and the process of vaccination.
COVID-19 Vaccine for SAMWUMED MembersClick here to download Questions and Answers
SECTION 1: Funding Questions
Yes. The vaccines will form part of the Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMB’s) and will be funded as per the PMB Guidelines and your Scheme’s Rules. This means that you should not incur any costs for the COVID-19 vaccination for you and your registered dependents, unless you have an existing waiting period for PMB’s.
Members are encouraged to purchase travel insurance prior to foreign travel. However, should the active member wish to, he/she may submit their foreign claim to their respective Scheme and include the required documentation (as stipulated by your Scheme’s Rules) for processing against the scheme tariff and subject to scheme rules.
The vaccines will form part of the Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMB’s) and will therefore pay from Risk/Overall Annual Limit benefits. The vaccine will not be paid from available savings benefits for Scheme’s with savings benefits.
Always seek medical attention immediately should you be experiencing complication. The scheme will however pay for complications relating to vaccine administration in line with the scheme rules and benefits as well as PMB legislation.
No. Schemes are legally not allowed to pay benefits to persons not covered on the Scheme. Pricing has not been finalised as yet by the NDoH, but it is envisaged that the same Single Exit Price (SEP) structure will apply to the vaccines as with other medications where the SEP is slightly higher for the private industry to cross-subsidise the public sector.
The final price for the vaccines have not yet been released. The cost is currently being determined by the National Department of Health. Providers will also be able to charge for administration, PPE and consumables used. The cost and fees will be released once available.
The current dosing schedules for vaccines require either one or two doses for the vaccine to be effective depending on the specific vaccine recommendations. The number of vaccines covered will therefore be either one or two per beneficiary and subject to PMB Guidelines, Clinical Guidelines and your Scheme’s Rules.
At this point, there is no clear evidence on whether repeat vaccination will be required. Scheme rules will be reviewed and amended as more clinical evidence becomes available.
Ivermectin is used as investigational medicines (i.e. the potential benefit and harms of the medicine is still being tested in clinical trials) for COVID-19 and most schemes will not consider funding for this reason.
SECTION 2: Process Questions
Yes. Everyone over the age of 18 will be prioritised for vaccination in line with the South African COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Plan. Persons will have to be registered on the national Electronic Vaccination Data System and the process will be communicated as soon as it is finalised by the NDoH.
The roll-out plan is currently under development and will be communicated once finalised. At this stage the NDoH will be the only buyer of the vaccine into the country which will be stored at a Central Distribution Warehouse. Both the private and public sector will source the vaccine from the Central Distributor for distribution to registered providers for administration.
The process has not yet been finalised, but planning is underway for the vaccines to be available via work-based vaccination programmes, accredited pharmacy and doctor networks as well as from NDoH accredited vaccination centres. These details will be made available once received.
South Africa is getting its vaccines from various suppliers around the globe in a bid to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Some vaccines are easier to store than others and some are more effective against the new variant that has been identified in South Africa, but each vaccine that is approved in South Africa will help deter the spread of the virus.
Government will source, distribute and oversee the rollout of the vaccine. It is the sole purchaser of vaccines and will distribute it to provincial governments and the private sector in collaboration with the private sector. A national register for COVID-19 vaccinations will be established. The vaccination system will be based on a pre-vaccination registration and appointment system. All those vaccinated will be placed on a national register and provided with a vaccination card. A national rollout committee will oversee the vaccine implementation in both the public and private sectors.
The vaccine will be given by a trained health care worker via work-based programmes and in places like hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries. It is given as an injection in the arm. For some vaccines to work properly, you will need two injections. Other vaccines only require 1 injection. If you need a second injection you will get the second injection between 4 and 12 weeks after the first one. Your health care worker will tell you if and when to come back for the second injection and it is very important that you follow this advice in order to achieve optimal benefit from the vaccine.
There has been no deliberate delay to access the COVID-19 vaccine. The country was selecting vaccines on their safety and efficacy, ease of use, storage, distribution, supply sustainability and cost.
Yes. Updates will be provided on a regular basis and once the process has been finalised with the National Department of Health (NDoH) it will be communicated to all members.
No person will be forced to take the vaccine. As per his national address dated 01 February 2021, President Cyril Rhamaphosa confirmed that no individual will be forced to take the vaccine. Condition of employment may however require employees to vaccinate in order to return to work in order to not pose an increased health risk to other employees.
Yes, the vaccine will be available to the elderly in Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout plan.
Yes, persons over the age of 60 will be prioritised in Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout plan.
Yes, persons over the age of 18 with co-morbidities will be prioritised in Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout plan.
The South African government is working hard to ensure that we have enough vaccines available for the country. We will however not receive all the vaccines all at the same time and therefore the vaccinations will be done over 3 phases.
No. There are not enough vaccines in the world at the moment to give everyone the vaccine now. However, the government is committed to making sure that they will have enough vaccines this year for most people in the country. The vaccine will be rolled out in three phases.
Phase 1 vaccination of frontline healthcare workers is currently under way. The official dates for Phase 2 and Phase 3 have not yet been confirmed, but will be communicated as soon as it is has been made available by the NDoH.
The phased approach has been adopted to ensure that there are sufficient vaccines at any given time to meet the demand. There are three (3) phases. It is important to remember that information for each phase of the administration of the vaccine will be communicated, as the vaccines and processes are implemented.
Phase 1 will allows healthcare workers to get the vaccine. It is crucial that they are vaccinated as they care for us when we get sick.
Phase 2 has been broken down into four (4) groups of people:
- Essential workers: This included people who are required to work to keep our country and the economy running and includes (but is not limited to) police, teachers, municipal employees, security employees, farmers and food shop employees.
- People who are over the age of sixty (60) years.
- People who work and live in places which are densely populated, i.e. prisons, old age homes, care homes and institutions such as universities and churches.
- People over eighteen (18) years of age who present with comorbidities.
Phase 3 includes the rest of the country.
Providers need to register all their details and select a point of vaccination at an accredited site listed under the Trial 3B registered sites for vaccination. The EVDS registration link can be accessed via www.sacoronavirus.gov.za or directly on the EDVS link on www.vaccine.enroll.health.co.za. In addition there is the J&J site for GPs that links into the EDVS and Sisonke sites. The Vaccines for Healthcare Workers initiative driven by the Unity Forum for Family Practitioners can be accessed on http://bookings.v4hcw.co.za. Providers, based on vaccine availability and risk exposure, will be given a date and time and be sent a vaccination voucher. Additional sites to check on the voucher and confirm e-consent is https://sisonke.samrc.ac.za.
SECTION 3: Clinical Questions
A vaccine is a medicine that helps the body develop immunity (protection) which helps in the prevention of infections and illnesses i.e. helps in preventing you from getting an infection or from getting severely ill if you do get infected. Vaccines have stopped millions of children from getting sick and dying from diseases like measles, polio and mumps. Many adults have had vaccines against diseases like the flu and tetanus. Most vaccines are given by injection.
A vaccine works by helping the body recognise a new sickness, such as COVID-19, and then teaches the body how to fight it. When a person comes into contact with this sickness, their body is then ready to fight it and the person should not get sick or would have less severe sickness.
Vaccines saves lives. Vaccines have saved millions of people all over the world from getting sick and even dying from sicknesses such as measles and polio. They are a key intervention to try and prevent millions of people from getting sick and even dying from COVID-19.
Yes. It will stop most people who get the vaccine from getting sick with COVID-19. Some people might however still get sick from COVID-19 after they have been vaccinated but will most likely have a less severe form of the disease if they have been vaccinated.
Some vaccines are currently registered for use in persons 16 years and older while others are registered in persons 18 years and older as the vaccines were not tested on persons younger than this. The South African COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Plan currently only allows for vaccination in persons 18 years and older. You should however always discuss this with your treating healthcare provider who will guide you.
Most people can safely have the vaccine, but before you are given it, the health care worker will ask you some questions to check your health. You should not be given the vaccine unless it is safe for you.
It is not advisable to get both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time. It is recommended that the time period between the two vaccines should be at least 2 weeks, but your healthcare provider will guide you accordingly.
Yes. The vaccine can be used in most cases if you have a chronic condition and persons with co-morbidities will be prioritised in Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout. You will however be screened by your treating healthcare provider prior to receiving the vaccination to make sure that you are fit to do so.
It’s important for everyone to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools available to us for preventing severe disease due to SARS-CoV-2. There is some evidence that people living with HIV may be more vulnerable to developing severe COVID-19 symptoms and so getting vaccinated is even more critical if you are HIV positive. It’s too early to tell how effective the vaccines will be at reducing transmission of COVID-19, but we do know they are effective at preventing severe disease and death.
Most people will have a sore and slightly swollen arm for a few days, but feel fine. Some people may have sore muscles, feel a little tired, have a headache, or may feel hot. These feelings mean that the vaccination is working, but they will go away in one or two days. You should however always discuss any side-effects with your treating healthcare provider who will guide you. You should also contact your doctor immediately:
- if you develop an allergic reaction, even if mild
- vaccine side-effects get worse or do not resolve after 3 days
- you become pregnant within 3 months of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
No, the vaccine will not make you sick with COVID-19. The vaccine tries to stop you getting sick from COVID-19. You may however experience some side effects after receiving the vaccine.
When lots of people in a community are vaccinated the virus has a hard time circulating because most of the people it encounters are immune. The more people that are vaccinated, the less likely people who are unable to be protected by vaccines are at risk of being exposed to the virus. This is called herd immunity. No single vaccine provides 100% protection, and herd immunity does not provide full protection to those who cannot safely be vaccinated.
Yes. The vaccines that will be used in South Africa is safe. It has already been given to millions of people around the world, young and old, rich and poor. The vaccine has been developed and tested by leading scientists around the world, including South Africa. South Africa has some of the best doctors and nurses in the world. They will not allow us to use a vaccine that is not safe. Although it was developed very quickly to save lives, it has gone through all the necessary tests that other vaccines go through. It is however imperative that you discuss any conditions, allergies, pregnancy or intention to fall pregnant with your healthcare provider so he/she may assess if the vaccine would still be safe for you to take.
Developers of the COVID-19 vaccines have considered people living with HIV in their research and some have recruited HIV positive volunteers to participate in their vaccine studies. All of the vaccines under development or approved by regulators include some of the genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) but not the whole virus. This means they are not live vaccines and so are safe in people with damaged immune systems.
We can all get COVID-19. Some of us will get it and not even know that we have it and infect others who can get very ill and even die. The more people who have the vaccine, the less chance there is that the virus can spread in our communities.
You will have some protection after the first injection. You will be most protected about seven days after the second injection.
Yes. Some people are getting COVID-19 for the second time. The vaccine will help to prevent you from getting sick again. You should however always discuss this with your treating healthcare provider who will guide you.
Until the number of people with COVID-19 infection have fallen so low that all national lockdown levels are lifted, it’s essential to continue following the preventive measures that are currently recommended, even after you’ve been vaccinated:
- Always wear a cloth mask in public
- Wash your hands regularly
- Keep 1.5 m apart from others outside your home as much as possible
- Avoid crowds and confined spaces – rather have small gatherings and meet outdoors
Vaccination should be delayed until you are feeling better. You should not book an appointment for vaccination whilst you are self-isolating and must wait until you have completed your isolation period and are no longer showing symptoms. Experts recommend waiting at least four weeks after your symptoms have started or your positive test result if you don’t have symptoms before being vaccinated. This guidance applies also to those who get COVID-9 before getting their second dose of vaccine.
This is a new illness, so we do not know yet how long you are protected for. Doctors hope that it will be for a long time, but are still studying the long term effects of the vaccine and how long protection will last which is also dependent on how quickly the virus mutates.
Yes, analysts predict a third wave for South Africa around May 2021, although, it is anticipated to be less severe compared to the first and second waves. The vaccine will stop most people from getting sick with COVID-19. A small number of people might still get sick from COVID-19 even after they have been vaccinated. Without the vaccination they may however have gotten more sick. You should however always discuss this with your treating healthcare provider who will guide you.
No. An antibody test will give you an indication if you have been exposed to COVID-19 already. However, levels of antibodies can vary over time and so may not protect you sufficiently from being re-infected and may also not protect against new variants of the virus.
Yes, we will be receiving the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine. The issue is not around the safety of the vaccine but rather efficacy of the vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine was 67% effective against the pre-existing variant of COVID-19 but only 22% against the new 501Y.V2 variant. The J&J vaccine has proven to be 85% effective against the 501Y.V2 variant currently dominant in South Africa, so will be more effective in our country at the moment. Other vaccines could also become available locally depending on what the government is able to procure and whether they prove to be sufficiently effective to use locally.
While vaccines all have the same goal, there are many differences between injections from how they are manufactured, there effectiveness, how they need to be stored, the number of doses required and price.
Some vaccines e.g. Pfizer use new mRNA technology that teaches our cells how to produce a protein that allows the immune system to react. Studies have shown it to be 95% effective but it requires ultra-cold storage which limits how we can transport and distribute these types of vaccines across the country. They are also more expensive to produce.
Other vaccines e.g. Oxford/AstraZeneca use more traditional manufacturing techniques where the virus itself is altered such that it provokes the immune system to react without actually causing illness. It has a lower efficacy and local studies have shown that it is not as effective against the new variant circulating locally. It is however, cheaper and easier to store than mRNA vaccines and researchers are currently working on adapting the vaccine to be effective against new variants.
SECTION 4: True vs False
The vaccine was developed too quickly and proper safety checks were not completed.
The world was able to develop the vaccine quickly because scientists and governments around the world worked together for the public good. They could make use of years of previous research on related viruses, faster ways to manufacture vaccines, and regulators moving more quickly than normal. The COVID-19 vaccine has passed all the same tests as the other vaccines we already take.
The vaccine will change my DNA.
DNA are the building blocks that make you who you are. The vaccine will not change your DNA or who you are. The vaccine teaches your body how to recognise the virus and learn how to fight it.
The vaccine contains a microchip that will be used to track and control me.
The vaccine does not contain a microchip. The vaccine CANNOT be used to track you or save your personal information.
5G networks cause the coronavirus through radiation emissions.
No virus can travel through radio waves and mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.
The vaccine has the mark of the Beast – 666.
Vaccines have no link to any religion. Vaccines cannot be filled with spirits or demons. The vaccine was developed to save our lives, not to bewitch, possess or control us.
The vaccine is a way for the West to oppress Africa again.
The vaccine was not just the work of Western or rich countries. It was a worldwide effort. This effort brought together knowledge from across the world. This includes our own excellent doctors and scientists. It has also been tested here in South Africa.