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Don't be fooled by fake news

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

Government is calling on South Africans to dismiss fake news about the COVID-19 vaccines. 

The Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccines, which are being rolled-out in South Africa, are safe for use, says the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra).

Before vaccines and other medicines are administered, they must pass safety standards.

Sahpra’s Head of Pharmacovigilance, Florah Matlala, says Sahpra is constantly monitoring the risk profile of the vaccines. The vaccines have a low-risk profile, with the benefits outweighing any potential side effects.

“There’s a careful and ongoing review of data received from pharmaceutical companies, based on the clinical trials.

“We also look at the clinical trials themselves,” says Matlala.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla has dismissed claims that the vaccines could lead to death.

“COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Although they may not 100% protect against contracting the virus, they remain a better prevention weapon against the pandemic.”

 All vaccines approved for use in South Africa are subjected to a rigorous scientific standard for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality.

The Minister adds that anyone contributing to the spread of misinformation is contributing to avoidable infections and deaths, and this is a crime.

The misinformation has led to a large number of South Africans not getting vaccinated, which the Minister says is slowing down the mission to reach full vaccination. The more people that vaccinate, the sooner COVID-19 can be defeated and South Africans can resume their normal lives.

“We call upon people to show patriotism and be the messengers of positive information, instead of creating vaccine hesitancy through fake news," he says.

Vaccines are safe

Some rumours creating doubt about the vaccines is that people died after receiving a jab. However, studies have not found a direct link between the vaccines and death.

 Minister Phaahla says the World Health Organisation puts together data from different countries, reviews the information and shares it with countries around the world. This information is used to determine the safety of the vaccines.