Picture: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP
Picture: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP

What’s in the Covid-19 vaccine and other frequently asked questions

By Lou-Anne Daniels Time of article published Jan 27, 2021

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Cape Town - As South Africa awaits the arrival of the first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines, many questions remain about their safety and who will be in line for the vaccine.

As part of an extensive awareness campaign by the government, the Department of Health has produced a series of short videos answering the public's most frequently asked questions.

The questions include whether the vaccine will be safe, what it contains and who will be eligible for inoculation under the government's rollout plan.

In part 1 of this three-part series, Professor Barry Schoub, the head of the advisory committee on vaccines, answered some of these questions.

Here are the answer to five more vaccine FAQs:

What is in the vaccine?

Vaccines usually contain weakened or inactive parts of a particular organism that triggers an immune response within the body.

While the weakened version of the virus will not cause the person receiving the vaccine to contract the disease, it will trigger a response from their immune system.

The antibodies produced as a result of this response builds up the body’s memory against the pathogen so it can fight it in the future.

Does the vaccine contain a microchip?

Among the common conspiracy theories being widely touted is the claim that the Covid-19 vaccines contain microchips which allow for anyone who is inoculated to be monitored by governments.

Should I be afraid of taking the Covid-19 vaccine?

While no vaccine is 100 percent safe, millions of lives are saved every year by vaccinating people against diseases like polio, measles and hepatitis. Many other vaccines are administered daily throughout the world.

All of these vaccines go through rigorous clinical trials before being approved for use by health authorities.

Will elderly people with comorbidities be vaccinated?

A recent study published in the journal Science suggests that elderly people should be among the first to be inoculated in order to save the most lives.

The government will follow the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and the first stage of the vaccine roll-out will focus on front-line healthcare workers. Elderly people and persons over 18 with comorbidities will be vaccinated in the second phase of the roll-out.

Will I still have to wear a mask and observe social distancing guidelines after being vaccinated?

Being vaccinated doesn’t mean a person is immediately immune to a disease. This happens over a period of time and no vaccine maker can guarantee that their vaccine is 100 percent effective.

It makes sense to continue wearing a mask and maintain the recommended distance when interacting with other people or moving around outside the home.


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