What you need to know about vaccinations in SA

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South Africa's Covid-19 vaccination programme is under way. Here's what you need to know about who is eligible and how it works.

Who is eligible for a vaccine?

Right now, Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa are only available to people aged 60 and older, healthcare workers and teachers. The security cluster, which includes police officers, is expected to be vaccinated immediately after teachers.

The health department announced that from 1 July, over 50s would be able to register, with vaccinations to begin 15 July.

The department will announce when other age groups become eligible.

What do I need to do to get vaccinated?

People eligible for vaccinations (see above) need to register on the government's electronic vaccination data system (EVDS). There are five ways to register: on the internet; via WhatsApp; via a USSD code on your phone; in person at a vaccination site; and through community health workers the health department sends to your community.

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How much does it cost to get vaccinated?

No one may be charged anything at a vaccination site when receiving the jab. The vaccine cost will be covered by the state or by your medical aid scheme, if you belong to one.

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What happens at work if I refuse to take the vaccine?

South African companies that want to implement a mandatory vaccination policy in the workplace must first consider a range of alternatives for employees who refuse to take the jab. Find out more here.

Can I get paid sick leave if I get vaccinated?

South African employers are required to give their workers paid time off to get vaccinated against Covid-19. And employees who experience side effects can be booked off on paid sick leave by producing their vaccination certificates as proof, with no need for the standard medical certificate that may be required to claim sick days.

Where can I get vaccinated?

South Africa has more than 465 active sites where Covid-19 shots are being dispensed, heavily concentrated in South Africa's biggest cities. Find the full list of active sites on the SAcoronavirus website.

Nurse applying vaccine on patients arm
Nurse giving a patient the vaccine.
Getty Images

Will getting a vaccine cancel my life policy

No. The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) says that taking a Covid-19 vaccine will not lead to the cancellation of a policy or the repudiation of a claim. 

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Teachers being vaccinated

Department of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that the Covid-19 vaccine rollout for teachers would be between 23 June until 8 July. The department has ambitiously set out to vaccinate its 582 000 teachers and school personnel within 10 working days. The country received a consignment of 300 000 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week.

I'm a health worker but haven't been vaccinated? What do I do?

At this stage, healthcare workers can't register on the EVDS. Instead, a new registration platform has been set-up for health workers at www.v4hcw.co.za. All healthcare workers who have already registered with their professional bodies and who were previously registered on the EVDS, will automatically be transferred onto this new database. Details for healthcare workers who are not registered with a professional body will be announced by the health department soon.

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Can you walk into a vaccination site?

Yes, if you currently qualify (people aged 60 and older) and have registered on the EVDS. The vaccine site manager will decide if they will accept walk-ins on a particular day. Those who have scheduled appointments go first and if there are shots available, walk-ins will be accepted. You will also need your ID.

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What if I don't have medical aid?

For the most part, the government won't pay for walk-ins vaccinations administered at private sites if the people concerned don't have medical aid. If you're a walk-in vaccinee at a private sector site and are not covered by medical aid, it is likely that you will be referred to a public sector site, such as a government hospital. The only exception applies to people older than 80, who will be covered by the state if they don't have medical aid.

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Will I get prioritised if I have a co-morbidity?

People who have co-morbidities are not now, and will almost certainly not in the future, receive priority access to Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa – despite earlier government promises.

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- Additional reporting by Bhekisisa

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