Health Department urges people to report vaccine adverse events

The Department of Health has called on all people who experience any adverse events following immunisation to immediately report to their nearest health facility or vaccination site.

This comes after the department noted with concern a video clip circulating on social media platforms depicting a male patient suffering from what looks like throat cancer, claiming this to be the result of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement on Wednesday, the department said each province and district has allocated persons who are responsible for investigating severe and serious adverse events following immunisation within 48 hours since it has been identified or the health system has been notified thereof. However, there is no time limit to report an event.

“All adverse events following immunisation are taken seriously, and appropriate action can only be taken if they are reported,” the department said.

The department has reiterated that COVID-19 vaccines are very safe and highly effective at preventing hospitalisation and death, and therefore it discourages members of the public from using other people’s health conditions and life experiences to push their personal theories to justify opposition to this life-saving intervention.

“All vaccines and medicines have side effects, with the majority of COVID-19 vaccine side effects being minor and resolving within 2 - 3 days. While individuals respond differently to vaccination and side effects differ slightly among the vaccines, the most common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines include headache, mild fever, chills, pain and/or redness at the injection site, fatigue, muscle pain, nausea and mild diarrhoea,” the department said.

The department said serious adverse events following immunisation are very rarely caused by immunisation. They are most often health events that would have happened regardless of whether a vaccine was received.

“Rare vaccine adverse events can be managed successfully if they are identified early. Uncommon, severe and serious adverse events should always be reported, so that they are fully investigated, including those that need medical attention or hospitalisation.

“It is important to understand if the vaccine was responsible for the event, or whether it happened coincidentally to vaccination, even those that have improved clinically or resolved spontaneously,” the statement read.

The department has urged the public to report any serious adverse events following immunisation to the available platforms.

Upon reporting the case, the department says the assigned investigators will obtain the medical records of the person who experienced the adverse event, and submit these data to the National Immunisation Safety Expert Committee (NISEC) without making any judgement themselves on the cause of the adverse event.

Adverse events following immunisation may be reported using the Med Safety App (https://medsafety.sahpra.org.za/) or by completing a paper ‘Case report form’ which may be accessed at https://www.nicd.ac.za/diseases-a-z-index/adverse-event-following- immu....

The form should be returned by email to AEFI@health.gov.za. Alternatively, the COVID-19 Public Hotline can be contacted on 0800 0299 99.

Source: South African Government News Agency