All you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination for COVID-19 has opened for those 18 and older. Vaccinating is an important step to protect yourself and those around you from falling seriously ill from the virus. However, there’s still a lot of scepticism around it. Here are some facts about the COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s safe and effective

All COVID-19 vaccines went through various clinical trials and are safe to take. The FDA has recently approved the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, so we can be confident that it meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing.

None of the COVID-19 vaccines can infect you with the COVID-19 virus. Although you might experience side effects (which include flu-like symptoms), these usually go away within 2 days.

It helps builds protection

Some COVID-19 vaccines can help prevent spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

Not everyone can be vaccinated, including very young babies, those who are seriously ill and those who have certain allergies. These people depend on others being vaccinated to ensure that transmission of the virus is reduced.

Vaccination shots

In South Africa, two vaccines are being administered; Pfizer BioNTech (2 shots, administered 42 days apart) and Johnson and Johnson (1 shot).

You’re not considered fully vaccinated until 2 weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, or 2 weeks after a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

All vaccines available have the same goal- to trigger the immune system to develop antibodies & have a fighting chance against COVID-19. What’s currently being rolled out for the public is Pfizer, although some sites also offer Johnson and Johnson.

What side effects can be expected?

Some people get side effects, others don’t. Not getting side effects doesn’t mean the vaccine isn’t working. For those who get post-vaccine symptoms, they usually last 1-2 days.

Side effects include:

Pain, redness or swelling at the injection site



Muscle pain




Although you may experience flu-like symptoms, the vaccine cannot give you the COVID-19 virus.

If you’re concerned about these side effects, speak to your healthcare provider or contact the COVID-19 toll-free hotline on 0800 029 999.

Dos and Don’ts

After vaccinating, remember to eat well, get enough sleep, take your vitamins, exercise regularly, and continue to reduce exposure by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. Don’t forget to also use hand sanitiser frequently and wash your hands with soap and water.

Avoid strenuous activities for 24 hours after being vaccinated.

Avoid alcohol consumption.

Stay informed and avoid fake news.

Most importantly, don’t take the vaccine if you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms.

How to register

To register, follow these easy and simple steps. On WhatsApp, you can text “REGISTER” to 060 012 3456 or dial *134 832#. Alternatively, you can go to any vaccination site at a public facility to register and receive the vaccine, without prior registration. Most public vaccination sites are open to people that walk in for vaccination.

You can also visit or call this toll-free number: 0800 029 999 during their office hours. Monday to Friday: 7 am to 8 pm. Weekend and public holidays: 8 am to 6 pm.

COVID-19 is still a threat to all of us, so it’s our responsibility to do everything in our means to prevent the spread of the virus. This includes making the decision to vaccinate, wearing our masks and practicing social distancing. People have the right to choose whether to vaccinate or not, but choosing vaccination can enable our country to reach herd/population immunity, and hopefully end the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can chat to me, your healthcare provider or visit the South Africa Corona Virus website, if you have any other questions.

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).