Medical experts say it is beneficial to take the COVID-19 vaccine, as they try to address vaccine hesitancy.
According to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority’s (SAHPRA) Pharmacovigilance Manager, Mafora Matlala, adverse side effects is one of the leading drivers of vaccine hesitancy.
The drug watchdog’s data shows that some of the top adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) for COVID-19 include headache, local reaction, fever and dizziness.
“We are not surprised they are minor. So, this is just to alleviate that fear that you do not have to be scared of the AEFI,” she said.
“However, people should rather fear COVID-19 because the statistics have highlighted that more people have died as a result of COVID-19.”
Matlala was speaking during a webinar on Wednesday in partnership with SAHPRA, the Department of Health and National Immunisation Safety Expert Committee (NISEC) on mitigating COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
“Therefore, [weighing] the risk of being vaccinated compared to the risk of COVID-19, we can all agree that COVID-19 is riskier and it’s safer to take the vaccine,” she added.
She told the participants that monitoring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines is a critical priority for SAHPRA.
“Most of the AEFI are not serious and we continue to monitor and inform both the healthcare professionals and the public about the up to date safety concerns.”
NISEC’s Professor Hannelie Meyer encouraged people to focus on the positive information around vaccines.
The country is racing to inoculate 40 million or 70% of the adult population before the end of the year, of which 15 688 071 adults have already received at least one jab of the vaccine dose.
However, according to Meyer, the picture is currently not looking promising.
“If you have been watching the numbers of vaccines being administered, then you will see that our numbers are quite low.”
She also cited the John Hopkins’ survey that found that over 30% of South Africans are unwilling to take the jab, with many raising concerns about adverse effects.
“So, with all these questions that people have, it creates uncertainty, confusion and fear.”
The Professor disputed the myth that vaccines change people’s DNA.
“The vaccine only contains a messenger and that messenger instructs your body to make spike protein that your immune system can produce antibodies that when you get in contact with the real virus, your body will be able to fight that infection,” she explained.
Meanwhile, she said shots do not contain human and animal cells or tissue, pork, food allergens such as milk or eggs, aluminium or latex.
In addition, the Professor said the vaccine does not cause COVID-19, infertility and erectile dysfunction.
“When you are vaccinated or both people are vaccinated, you have 200 times less risk of getting infected. That is something to focus on instead of thinking about all the negative effects.”
Solidarity Fund’s Dr Saul Johnson said it is proven that vaccines will keep citizens out of hospital and stop people from dying.
“Because the vaccines are safe and effective, we would rather say everybody should vaccinate,” he added.
Source: South African Government News Agency