Covid-19 vaccine side effects rare in SA - according to data based on reports submitted to Sahpra

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  • Adverse effects from Covid-19 vaccines have been reported in only 0.02% of those vaccinated.
  • Most of the side effects reported are mild.
  • Severe side effects have been extremely rare.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) says that the body has received reports of adverse effects caused by Covid-19 vaccines in only 0.02% of more than nine million doses administered.

According to Sahpra's Mafora Matlala, the majority of the reported effects were mild. 

Matlala was part of a panel discussion by the Government Communication and Information System on Wednesday afternoon. The panel also included the department of health Prof Hannelie Meyer and health communication expert Pontsho Pilane.

Commonly reported side effects

In a new survey by the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the most significant reason for vaccine hesitancy is the fear of side effects. 

According to Matlala, serious adverse events after vaccination are rare, based on current information about side effects.

Meyer says that the reported mild side effects include headache; joint and muscle pain; chills; tiredness; fever and pain; and inflammation at the vaccination site – and that these usually resolve after two to three days.

She adds that severe reactions that last for more than three days and any new symptoms of concern within 30 days of vaccination need medical attention. 

Underlying conditions 

However, Meyer warns that people should not assume that all physical reactions presenting after vaccination are necessarily related to the vaccine.

"It's possible that you could be incubating another illness, for example, like malaria: you get your vaccine, and now you present with high fever and you assume the vaccine is causing this, especially if this is now persisting, and eventually this person could get very ill, and could even die. And then it was because of malaria, and not because of the vaccine.

"Also, other conditions like tuberculosis, pneumonia and many other conditions [may also be involved]. People could also have an underlying Covid-19 infection, because at the moment Covid-19 is circulating at very high levels. So, this or anything else of concern is very important to report immediately," Meyers explains.

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

READ | More 'disappointment' at top heart doctor's anti-vaccine video - as groups back science on jabs

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