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Coronavirus in South Africa: Get the facts.

Coronavirus: The basics

  • Possible vaccine side effects

    Side effects can start around 6 hours after the vaccine, peak at 24 hours and should resolve in 2-3 days. These side effects show your body is mounting an immune response.


    On the arm where you got the shot: Pain, redness, and swelling
    Throughout the rest of your body: Tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea

  • Tips to reduce discomfort after your vaccination

    Talk to your pharmacist about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines, or acetaminophen, for any pain and discomfort you may experience after getting vaccinated. It is not recommended you take these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects.


    To reduce pain and discomfort where you got the shot, apply a clean, cool, wet wash cloth over the area. Move and exercise your arm.


    To reduce discomfort from fever, Drink plenty of fluids, dress lightly and make use of Paracetamol to reduce fever.

  • When to seek medical attention

    In most cases, discomfort from fever or pain is normal. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider if the redness or tenderness where you got the shot increases after 24 hours or your side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away. Contact your healthcare provider If your fever lasts more than 2 days or you develop a continuous cough, sore throat, or experience changes in your ability to taste or smell.

  • Step 3

    At the pharmacy counter, ensure that you have your unique vaccination voucher, ID and medical aid details (where applicable), and provide consent to receive your vaccination.

How can you protect yourself from the Coronavirus?

  • Wash your hands frequently

    Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. The Covid-19 virus spreads via tiny droplets from infected people when they sneeze or cough. These droplets land on surfaces and if you touch those surfaces and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, the virus may enter your body.

    Careful handwashing with soap and water is the most effective way of preventing infection, but if you don’t have access to soap and water or are on the go, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol.

  • Keep your distance

    The South African government is currently advising ‘social distancing’ or avoiding unnecessary contact with people in public spaces. When you do need to be out and about, maintain at least one metre from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

    The Covid-19 virus is carried in tiny droplets in the coughs and sneezes of infected people. If you are close enough to breathe in these droplets when someone coughs or sneezes, you could become infected.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

    This step may be simple but it’s not necessarily easy. We touch our faces unconsciously, more often than we realise. Start by becoming aware of the impulse to touch your face and identify why you’re doing it. Is it merely a habit or do you have an itch? The more awareness you can develop, the better you’ll get at stopping yourself.

    If you do catch yourself touching your face, don’t panic. If you are washing your hands regularly in the circumstances described in step 1, you have already reduced your risk of infection. Strive to become more mindful of your face-touching triggers and you will get better over time.

  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing

    You might have been taught to cough or sneeze into your closed fist but now is the time to change this habit. Rather than using your hand, use a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Then remember to wash your hands with soap and water, and to dispose of the tissue immediately.

    This prevents the virus spreading directly to others via droplets or indirectly via droplets on your hands that then contaminate any surfaces you touch.

  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

    This will not only protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections. If you suspect you might have the COVID-19 virus, call your healthcare provider. Calling ahead prevents you from spreading – or being the infected by – the coronavirus and allows your healthcare provider to direct you to the right facility.

    Call the Department of Health’s 24-hour coronavirus hotline: 0800 029 999

  • Clean and disinfect high use surfaces

    While routine cleaning is merely about removing dirt, disinfecting is about killing pathogens such as the COVID-19 virus. Scientists have found that the coronavirus can live on certain surfaces, such as plastic and stainless steel, for up to three days.

    Pay special attention to ‘high-touch’ areas such as doorknobs, taps, light switches and remote controls. The first step is to clean the surface by wiping it down with soapy water or a regular cleaning product on a cloth. Then apply a disinfecting product – the label should indicate that it kills bacteria and viruses.