Boots on the ground in Pelican Park vaccine registration drive

Compassion In Action Community Health workers take to the streets of Pelican Park to embark on the collaborative registration drive.

A team of contracted health interns, community health workers and neighbourhood watch members partnered to pilot the first collaborative community door-to-door registration drive in Pelican Park.

The team started their work on Wednesday July 7 and helped the Western Cape Health Department register more seniors from the area because, as of Monday July 5, of the 3250 residents over the age of 60, only 16% had registered for the Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr Mishal Pandie, vaccine project co-ordinator said the purpose of the initiative was to improve engagement with the community and spread positive messaging that is based on facts.

“We also want to remove barriers to registration and advocate for the health and well-being of our communities through vaccination and safe living during the third wave.”

Joseph Sedrick, was one of the first residents to be registered as part of the southern and western “boots on the ground” registration drives.

Joseph Sedrick who was one of the first residents registered during the drive, said he hadn’t been sure how to register and was grateful for the assistance.

Another resident said while he knew the vaccine was good for preventing severe Covid-19, many residents unfortunately still feared dying and illness due to false stories and myths being circulated.

Tara Chamberlain, a community liason office said the department was well aware that there was still a great level of fake news via social media and the internet which had deterred and scared people from taking the vaccine. “Our team is doing the best we can to converse with the community while we are on the ground and make them aware of fake news and introduce the correct facts from the right sources.”

Lorraine Snyders and Michael Hendricks both from Compassion In Action, assist Western Cape Government health intern, Sasha-Lee Isaacs with registration of a resident.

Useful facts about the vaccine

You will get an injection in your upper arm.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is given in two doses 6 weeks – or 42 days – apart. An appointment will be given by the Department to return for the second dose via an SMS. Protection starts around two weeks after the first injection but is best two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

All Covid-19 vaccines being used have been tested many times to ensure safety and were created to check for any common side effects.

Common side effects are pain and redness in the upper arm where you are injected, headache, and feeling unwell, tired, and feverish. These side effects start around 6 hours after the vaccine, peak at 24 hours and usually resolve within 2 to 3 days. You can use paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory if you need to.

Several common vaccine side effects are like Covid-19 symptoms. If you experience a mild fever, aching muscles, headache, or fatigue, this is likely due to your body’s reaction to the vaccine.

If you develop flu symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, headache, runny nose, a change in your sense of taste or smell, or fever, you might have Covid-19 and should isolate yourself.

If you have an underlying medical condition or chronic illness, you have a greater risk of severe illness from Covid-19. Because of this, you should consider getting vaccinated.

Anticoagulant medications (like warfarin)

As with any injection, there is a small risk of bleeding at the injection site. If you are up to date with your scheduled international normalised ratio (INR) testing and your latest INR was below the upper threshold of your therapeutic range, you can receive the vaccination safely. The rare clotting condition described following the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is bought about through different pathways to usual clotting problems. People with usual clotting problems are at increased risk of developing clots during infection with Covid-19 and are urged to take up vaccination. If you have any concerns speak to your usual healthcare provider or vaccination site staff.

Do I need the vaccine if I’ve already had Covid-19?

Yes, you should still be vaccinated if you’ve already had Covid-19 or if you’ve had a positive antibody test. The vaccination will boost any response your immune system put in place after a previous coronavirus infection. You should wait 90 days after testing positive for Covid-19 or onset before getting the vaccine. If you were hospitalised with Covid-19, please consult your doctor about when it would be safe to get your vaccine.

Can I get the vaccine if I have symptoms of Covid or if I am in quarantine?

If you currently are in quarantine because of exposure to someone with Covid, you should wait until you have completed your quarantine period, before getting vaccinated. If you have had Covid-19 you should wait 30 days after your symptoms started. If you have Covid-19 symptoms on the day of your vaccination, your vaccination will be rescheduled.

What can I do now to help protect myself from getting Covid-19 until I can get vaccinated?

Continue wearing your mask, practising social distancing, opening windows and doors and sanitising/washing your hands and frequently touched objects, regularly, before, and even after being vaccinated.

Remember you can register at no cost by:

Using the USSD service: dial *134*832# from your phone to start the registration process or send the word “REGISTER” to 0600 123 456 on WhatsApp or visit http://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za You can also access this link on our website, www.westerncape.gov.za. You can also register at the vaccination site.