Covid-19 weekly round-up: Why it’s vital to fully recover from Covid-19 before getting the vaccine

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published Aug 2, 2021

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South Africans have been urged to wait at least 30-35 days after they have recovered from a Covid-19 infection to receive their vaccine as an excessive immune response could be dangerous.

Head of the Centre for Clinical Excellence at Discovery Health, Dr Noluthando Nematswerani, said people need to give their bodies time to recover from the illness and symptoms related to Covid-19.

"While you're recovering from an active Covid-19 infection and in the immediate period after recovery, your immune system is on high alert and already challenged to respond to the presence of the virus in your body," she said.

Vaccine-related side effects could be more pronounced due to the heightened immune response as a result of the underlying infection.

“We want to avoid creating excessive immune responses in the body by vaccinating people who are fighting or have just recently fought off a Covid-19 infection. Excessive immune responses can be very risky,” said Nematswerani.

Acting Health Minister Mamoloko Kubayi said during an online media briefing that a number of healthcare workers have reported cases where people with an active Covid-19 infection have presented themselves to vaccination sites, requesting to receive a shot.

She said the Covid-19 vaccine won’t assist people when they have already tested positive for the virus, and it could lead to their immune system being overstimulated.

The Department of Health has received reports where people have passed away from side effects after receiving the vaccine while they had an active Covid-19 infection.

While it is important to wait between infection and vaccination, a number of health organisations and experts have advised that people should still get vaccinated after they have fully recovered.

Wits University infectious diseases expert Professor Francois Venter said various studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from Covid-19.

South Africans won’t be forced to take the vaccine

Acting Health Minister Mamoloko Kubayi says no person should be forced to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

Kubayi said this on Friday following reports that some employers have threatened to dismiss staff who choose not to receive the vaccine.

Last week the SA Human Rights Commission called on people to come forward if they had been threatened with losing their jobs or rented accommodation for refusing to get the shot.

Trade union federation Cosatu issued a stern warning to employers, saying that no employee should be dismissed for refusing to take the vaccine.

In a statement, the federation said opportunistic employers should stop victimising workers who refuse to vaccinate and that all South Africans have a right to accept or refuse to be vaccinated either on medical or constitutional grounds.

Around 7.5 million South Africans have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and the rollout has been ramped up to administer over 250 000 shots per week day.

Delivery of US donated Covid-19 vaccines welcomed

South Africa has received the first consignment of the 5.66 million Pfizer vaccine doses donated by the American Government.

2.8 million Pfizer doses arrived in the country on Saturday and Kubayi said the donation will contribute to the country’s expanded vaccination programme which is fast gaining momentum to reach more people.

This contribution comes timely for South Africa as the country prepares to move to the younger age cohort of over 18s in September.

The other half of the 5.66 million doses is set to arrive later this month.

The vaccines would also be distributed to other countries in the continent through the African Union Commission. Four million doses of the Moderna vaccine will go to Nigeria.

In June, the Biden-Harris administration announced an allocation plan for 55 million doses to be shared globally.

Keep an eye out next week for another roundup of the top Covid-19 stories.

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