'Everyone will react differently to the Covid-19 vaccine'
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Cape Town — Health-care workers at the Brackengate Hospital of Hope work have shared their vaccine experiences, including the hopes and fears they’ve experienced while fighting Covid-19.
When the vaccine programme was rolled out in February, workers queued to get their vaccinations, saying it has brought relief and they feel more confident in the workplace.
Many health-care workers reported no symptoms after getting their vaccine, but some, like dietician Anandi Palvie, experienced side-effects.
Palvie recalled having body aches and a fever seven hours after being injected with the vaccine. She was booked off from work for a day and says she felt much better after 24 hours.
“I took paracetamol and ibuprofen. The following day, around 11am, I was able to continue normal activities. I could eat again. I returned to work (on) the Friday and (on) the weekend I started doing sports again.”
The health-care worker said she was aware of possible side-effects but chose to get vaccinated to protect her loved ones.
“I am a front line worker and I felt like I needed to be protected. I got my vaccine. My number one reason was to protect my family. I am protected a little bit more now, so I am protecting them a bit more.
“I did this for my mom, my dad, my aunt … when I see them, I feel safer now because I am vaccinated.”
Her colleague, staff nurse Amanda Swartz, is a Covid-19 survivor.
Swartz said she first started thinking about getting the vaccine when she saw how many people were sick with Covid-19 in the second wave, and she later contracted the virus.
“I remember seeing the state patients were in during December, it was terrible to see the state some of our young people that came in. They were scared as many had never been that sick before. There was a fear of death that surrounded you every day.
“It did take a toll on our emotional state. When I was sick with the virus, I thought a lot about those moments and I thought about the vaccine, and the possibility that if I were to get Covid-19 again it wouldn’t be as severe. I could protect myself, my family and my patients,” she said.
“So, there is a way to prevent more infections. I saw daily deaths … we can prevent this from happening again.”
Swartz experienced no side-effects after her jab and says it’s important to know that “everyone will react differently to the vaccine”.
Like Swartz, staff nurse Juliana Rooi experienced anxiety during the second wave, and she explained that she got vaccinated because she was anxious.
“We saw many deaths and so many sick people. What bothered me was that our patients were alone, they spoke to their families on the phone, but some died alone. It was hard, but we kept them company and did our best to care for them.
“I also thought about my family at home. I thought about protecting them and also keeping the number of Covid-19 infections low, and I got the vaccine to protect us.”
Administrative clerk Hajiera Williams had her doubts about getting vaccinated but spoke to her colleagues and decided to get her shot.
“I had my concerns about the vaccine but the doctors at work encouraged me. I decided to get my vaccine and I experienced no side effects. Both of my parents are pensioners and retired. I remember thinking, I need to be cautious as I didn’t want to make them sick.
“We have an outside room at our house, so before I entered the house after work, I would change my clothes. I feel safer now, even my father is looking forward to getting his vaccine after I told him that I had mine. This has brought us all some relief,” Williams said.
Health workers say they are relieved after being vaccinated. But they have appealed to the public to practise safe behaviour.
Swartz added: “Things are quiet now, but we don’t know what is next. We ask the public to help us by wearing their masks. We also need to wash our hands regularly and remember to stay home when you are sick and don’t attend large gatherings.
“Some people still think this is a hoax, but it’s not. It’s the little things we do that can keep all of us safe.”
The Hospital of Hope conducted a survey to assess staff interest and willingness to participate in the Sisonke vaccine rollout plan.
The survey ran from February 19 to 23.
A total of 240 staff members responded to the survey, and 178 staff members consented to be a part of the programme.
Prior to the survey, staff information sessions were held to ensure all staff were aware of the vaccination programme.
By March 12, some 172 staff members were vaccinated at the Hospital of Hope, and the vaccination drive continues.
Learn more about the vaccine at https://coronavirus.westerncape.gov.za/covid-19-vaccination