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Let’s Talk About Vaccines

Health • by Paul De Beyer • 01 July 2021

First of all, let’s get our terminology straight: A vaccine is a substance that stimulates the immune system to create antibodies against a disease, and a vaccination is the act of getting the vaccine administered (injection or oral drops).

When most of us think about vaccinations, the first thing that used to come to mind was the yearly flu jab.

But since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines have taken on a whole new meaning. Pop a search into Google and you’ll be inundated with piles of information, especially about the latest version of the COVID-19 vaccines doing the rounds.

The question is: how much do you really know about vaccines? Let us help.

What is a vaccination?

By getting a vaccination, your immune system is prepped to protect your body against a virus so that your defences are ready should you ever contract a disease fully.

This is done by introducing a dead or weakened form of the virus into your body through oral drops or injection, allowing your immune system to learn how to fight the disease: otherwise known as creating antibodies for the disease.

It’s important to note that being vaccinated is totally safe, and you won’t contract the disease you’re being vaccinated for.

Why is it important to vaccinate yourself and others?

The point of vaccinations is twofold:

  1. You protect yourself from contracting a virus and having a very bad reaction to it. This reaction can lead to hospitalisation and, in some cases, death. Vaccinations won’t necessarily stop you from catching a disease, such as COVID-19. However, they do drastically lower your chances of dying from it.

  2. To protect those around you. We’ve all heard the term “herd immunity”, which, in essence, means when a majority of the population have created antibodies against a virus, thereby preventing it from spreading as quickly. By getting vaccinated, you help create this immunity, lowering the spread of the virus.

How and when do you get vaccinated?

Most vaccines can be administered in one of two ways: orally, in a liquid drop form, or injected into a large muscle group such as the bottom, thigh or shoulder. The timings of common vaccinations are:

  1. At birth or during a child’s first year: these vaccinations are specifically aimed at immunising the population against dangerous diseases such as measles, polio and meningitis. Many of the vaccinations you receive in life are during the first 12 months of your life.
  2. Set periods in your childhood: booster vaccinations and updates are applied later in your childhood for things such as hepatitis, mumps and rubella.
  3. Ad hoc or necessary vaccinations: vaccinations like tetanus have a “lifespan” in your body and might require you to have them done more than once. More often than not, getting these vaccinations will follow an event that might cause the disease, such as stepping on a rusty nail.
  4. Periodic or seasonal vaccinations: the flu vaccination falls into this category, where new strains of the virus develop over a year and a vaccine is released to combat the worst of them.

What about the COVID-19 vaccine?

The coronavirus vaccine follows the same principles as any other vaccine. The aim is to create a large group of vaccinated people, large enough to stop the virus from spreading as rapidly as it currently is, and to reduce the overall number of people who have severe, life-threatening symptoms.

Depending on which vaccine you get offered, it might be a one-dose or two-dose vaccination. The vaccine is totally free to all South African citizens, and is paid for by the government.

Currently, as of July 2021, there are two vaccines being offered in South Africa: the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The Pfizer vaccine is a two-dose version, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose. Whichever version you get, you’ll be helping add to the general safety of yourself and others around you.

Please note that GetSavvi Health does not cover any of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Here's a list of vaccine FAQs provided by the SA Department of Health. 

What vaccinations do GetSavvi Health cover?

GetSavvi Health aims to keep you as safe and healthy as possible.

With that in mind, our preventative benefits provide access to vaccinations for pneumonia, hepatitis A and B, flu and tetanus, as well as pap smears, prostate screenings and health tests.

If you want to know more about this and other benefits, click here and fill in your details, and a GetSavvi Health consultant will contact you soon.

References:

Baby and Childhood Vaccinations
COVID-19 vaccines
Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines
Basics and Common Questions
Vaccines and immunization: What is vaccination?

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