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Covid-19 Vaccine, Side Effects & Herd Immunity

Affinity Health: Covid-19 Vaccine, Side Effects & Herd Immunity

By now, you’ve more than likely heard about the worldwide Covid-19 vaccine rollout. Affinity Health examines the concept of ‘herd immunity’, how vaccines work, and ways we can all help flatten the curve. 

According to recently published information, the Department of Health in South Africa aims to vaccinate 40 million people by December. To be effective, each person requires two doses of the vaccine, resulting in a need for about 80 million doses. As of 15 January 2021, however, the government has secured just 20 million doses – a long way short of the amount it needs.

In addition to the big question of whether SA will have enough vaccines for all of us are questions around how the COVID-19 vaccines work, the possible side effects, and the importance of continuing to take infection prevention steps.

“There is a lot of misinformation around the Covid-19 vaccine,” says Affinity Health CEO Murray Hewlett. “To understand more about the Covid-19 vaccine, one must first understand the role vaccines have in our society.”

Humans have successfully developed vaccines for several life-threatening diseases throughout history, including meningitis, tetanus, measles, and wild poliovirus.

Vaccines work by helping the body’s immune system recognise and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness. A vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19 is an ideal approach to achieving herd immunity.

“The term ‘herd immunity’ is being heard often in the news. While it sounds a little strange, it’s a simple concept,” explains Hewlett. 

“When many people are vaccinated against a particular disease, the disease has a more challenging time spreading because most of the people it encounters are immune. The more that others are vaccinated, the less likely people who are unable to be protected by vaccines are at risk of even being exposed to the harmful pathogens. This is called herd immunity.”

Affinity Health says it’s important to understand that herd immunity does not provide complete protection to those who cannot safely be vaccinated. But it does slow down the spread of diseases. Vaccines may also have side-effects. 

Some people who have had the Covid-19 vaccine have complained of mild to moderate symptoms, including:

  • Swelling, redness, or tenderness at the site of the  injection 
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever/ high temperature (37.8°C or greater)

While less common, there have been isolated reports of life-threatening side effects, including anaphylaxis, a severe and dangerous reaction that can constrict airways and send the body into shock.

“While the government continues to secure enough Covid-19 vaccines, all South Africans should be helping stop the spread of the coronavirus by taking all the appropriate precautions, including wearing a face mask, social distancing, and self-isolating if you feel unwell,” concludes Hewlett.


About Affinity Health

Affinity Health aims to provide premier quality, affordable medical insurance to South Africans. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service when they are faced with injury or illness. We work to deliver innovative solutions that are simple, cost-effective, and proven, so our cover is structured to ensure that you get exactly what you need. For more information, follow us on Facebook, and Instagram. 

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