Pretoria – Healthcare workers who took part in the first rollout of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine said they were feeling safer and more confident to continue being at the forefront of fighting the pandemic.
The nurses from Steve Biko Academic Hospital said since they had taken the vaccine on February 19, they were yet to experience any adverse side effects.
Kgadi Seema, a level four theatre nurse, said she was initially hesitant and anxious about taking the vaccine, given the uncertainty and myths that started circulating soon after news of its arrival began.
However, she said she was more concerned about getting infected again as she had contracted Covid-19 twice already.
Seema said she was diagnosed the first time on August 4 and again on November 21 where it got to a point when she had to be readmitted.
“For me, my biggest concern was getting reinfected and perhaps not even making it the third time around. Since I received the vaccine I feel better and I’ve honestly had no symptoms aside from the pain of the injection site.”
Lichen Modiba, another health-care worker, said although she had not contracted the coronavirus, she was elated to hear news of a vaccine being made available and about the fact that health-care workers were being prioritised.
Modiba said since she was vaccinated on Friday, the only thing she had experienced was slight pain at the injection site.
Both nurses said they wanted to encourage other health-care workers to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and for South Africans to support the government’s bid to achieve the herd immunity needed to curb the spread of the virus.
South Africa aims to vaccinate roughly 1.1 million people against Covid-19 by the end of March as part of the government’s immunisation programme, as announced by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Thursday.
Mkhize said authorities might have to inoculate more than their original target of 40 million people to reach herd immunity.
The country started rolling out the Johnson & Johnson's vaccine last week in a research study targeting health-care workers, with the government hoping to boost its vaccination efforts with the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine soon.
Mkhize said more than 32 000 health workers had been given the shot by Thursday.
Motalatale Modiba, the departmental spokesperson, reiterated the call for health-care workers to adhere to the vaccination roll-out process and register with the Electronic Vaccination Data System.
Modiba said the vaccination formed part of a research study under the Sisonke Vaccination Programme which was being led by the South African Medical Research Council and the National Department of Health.
He added that other vaccination sites across the province would be activated when more vaccines were delivered in the coming weeks.
Pretoria News Weekend