[EXPLAINER] When to exercise caution before getting a Covid-19 vaccine


The South African government’s Coronavirus portal has all relevant information about the vaccine and the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, and the information below can be found on this site.

When in doubt, it is always best to consult a medical expert such as your doctor.

Who shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Based on the available evidence, people with the following health problems should, as a general rule, be excluded from vaccination against Covid-19 in order to avoid possible side effects:

  • If you have a history of serious allergic reactions to any of the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If you are currently ill or have symptoms of Covid-19, however, you may be able to get the vaccine once your main symptoms have resolved.

Is it safe for pregnant women, those planning to become pregnant, and nursing mothers to receive COVID-19 vaccines?

Based on what we know about these vaccines, there is no particular reason to believe that there will be any risks that outweigh the benefits of vaccination for pregnant women. While pregnancy puts women at a higher risk of severe Covid-19, very little data is available to assess the safety of vaccines during pregnancy.

The government has said it is advised that vaccines be offered to all pregnant and breastfeeding women who are eligible and who have completed 14 weeks gestation.

It is not yet clear whether Covid-19 vaccines can be excreted through breastfeeding. To determine the best course of action, the developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for Covid-19 vaccination, according to the Department of Health. The World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend stopping breastfeeding after vaccination.

Can I get the vaccine if I’m taking medication or have any pre-existing conditions?

Your doctor would be in the best position to discuss the vaccination.

What are the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines?

Like any vaccine, Covid-19 vaccines can cause mild side effects, such as a mild fever or pain or redness at the injection site. Most reactions to vaccines are mild and go away on their own within a few days. More serious or long-lasting side effects from vaccines are possible but extremely rare.

The reported side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines have been mostly mild to moderate and of short duration. They include: fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, diarrhea, and pain at the injection site.

Can you have an allergic reaction to the vaccine?

Serious allergic reactions have been reported in a small number of people who have received a Covid-19 vaccine. A serious allergic reaction – such as anaphylaxis – is a potential but rare side effect with any vaccine. In people with known risk, such as a previous experience of an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine or to any of the known components of the vaccine, caution may be necessary.

If you have ever had an allergic reaction to vaccines or other medicines, you should consult your health care provider before receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

Can I get vaccinated when I am not feeling well / in quarantine / recovering from Covid-19?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must complete your quarantine period and then wait another 28 days before you can get vaccinated. If you are not feeling well but have not tested positive for Covid-19, you should not go to the vaccination site and should instead wait for a follow-up appointment.

Can you get the flu shot if I got the flu shot a week ago?

Please allow 14 days between the two vaccinations.

Where can I get vaccinated?

A full list of active vaccination sites is available here.

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