Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

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This form is only for Nelson Mandela University staff and students regarding the campus-wide vaccine rollout.

If you are unable to find the answer to your vaccine questions, ask here. We will seek the answer and add it to our FAQs.  

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What is a vaccine?

A vaccine is a medicine that helps the body fight infections and illnesses. Vaccines have stopped millions of children from getting sick and dying from diseases like measles, polio and mumps. Many adults have had vaccines against diseases like the flu and tetanus. Most vaccines are given by injection. The COVID-19 vaccine will also be given by injection. 

What is the COVID-19 vaccine?

This is a new vaccine that helps the body to fight the COVID-19 virus. It works like other vaccines. It helps the body recognize this new sickness, then it prepares the body to fight the virus so that you do not get sick.

Why should I have the vaccine?

We can all get COVID-19. Some of us will get it and not even know that we have it and will unintentionally infect others who can get very ill and even die. The more people who have the vaccine, the less chance there is that the virus can spread in our communities.

Will the vaccine stop me from getting COVID-19?

Yes, it will stop most people who get the vaccine from getting sick with COVID-19. A very small number of people may still get a little sick from COVID-19 after they have been vaccinated. Without the vaccination, however, they may have become very ill and even die.

Why do we need to use this vaccine?

COVID-19 has caused the death of millions of people around the world. Vaccines save lives. This vaccine is a key intervention in halting the transmission of the virus as it protects you from contracting it.

What is herd or population immunity?

When a lot of people in a community are vaccinated, the virus has a hard time circulating because most of the people it encounters are immune.  The more people who are vaccinated, the less likely people who are unable to be protected by vaccines are at risk of even being exposed to the virus. This is called herd immunity. No single vaccine provides 100% protection, and herd immunity does not provide full protection to those who cannot safely be vaccinated.

Where is South African getting its first vaccine from?

South Africa will receive 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in late January and 500 000 doses in February of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Who will get the vaccine?

Our government wants most of our people in South Africa, at least 40 million, to be vaccinated by the end of 2021. The more people who are protected/vaccinated against COVID-19, the sooner the virus will go away.

Can everyone have the vaccine?

Most people can safely have the vaccine. But before you are given the vaccine, the health care worker will ask you some questions to check your health. You will not be given the vaccine unless it is safe for you.

Was there a deliberate delay in getting a COVID-19 vaccine for South Africa?

No, there was no deliberate delay in getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The country was selecting vaccines on their safety and efficacy, ease of use, storage, distribution, supply sustainability and cost.

Who is buying the COVID-19 vaccine for South Africa?

Government is sourcing, distribution and overseeing the rollout of the vaccine. It is the only purchaser of vaccines and will distribute it to provincial governments and the private sector. A national register for COVID-19 vaccinations is being established. The vaccination system will be based on a pre-vaccination registration and appointment system. All those vaccinated, will be placed on a national register and provided with a vaccination card. A national rollout committee will oversee the vaccine implementation in both the public and private sectors.

I have already had COVID-19, do I still need the vaccine?

Yes, as some people have contracted COVID-19 for the second time. The vaccine will help prevent you getting sick again.

After the vaccine can I stop wearing a mask?

No, as there is still a small chance that you will contract COVID-19.

Please continue to:

  • Wear a mask
  • Wash and sanitise your hands regularly
  • Keep your distance
  • Keep windows open
  • Avoid crowds
Can a diabetic also have the Covid-19 vaccine?
Yes, people with co-morbidities like diabetes can have the vaccine.
How is the COVID-19 vaccine given?

The vaccine will be given by a trained health care worker in places like hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, or doctors’ surgeries. In the case of Nelson Mandela University, it will be administered by colleagues at the COVID-19 screening centre on North Campus, along with specially adapted venues in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) and on our George Campus.

The injection is given in the arm. For it to work properly, you need two injections. You will get the second injection between four and 12 weeks after the first one. Your health care worker will tell you when to come back for the second injection. It is very important that you get both injections.

Full details of the vaccination rollout programme will be provided.

How long will the vaccine take to work?

You will have some protection after the first injection. You will be most protected about seven days after the second injection.

How long will I be protected against COVID-19 after having had the vaccine?

This is a new illness, so we do not know yet how long you are protected for. Doctors hope that it will be for a long time.

Will we all get the vaccine at the same time?

No, as there are not enough vaccines in the world right now to give everyone the vaccine straight away. The government is committed to ensuring that we will have enough vaccines this year for most people in the country. The vaccine will be rolled out in three phases.

Who will get the vaccine first?

Healthcare and related workers will get the vaccine first as we need to protect people who are most at risk of getting sick from COVID-19. The immunization programme will begin in February.

What are the phases of the vaccine rollout?


Our health care workers will get the vaccine. If they get sick, there is no one to care for the rest of us.


These four groups of people:

  • Essential workers: People who have to work to keep our country going, such as the police, teachers, municipal workers, security people, farmers and food shop workers.
  • People over 60 years old.
  • People who work and live in places where there are lots of people, like prisons, old age homes, care homes, institutions like universities and churches.
  • People over 18 who have comorbidities - other sicknesses, such as TB, HIV, or poorly controlled diabetes.


The rest of the country over the age of 18.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Yes, the vaccine that will be used in South Africa is safe. It has already been given to millions of people around the world.  The vaccines have been developed and tested by scientists around the world, including in South Africa. The country has some of the best doctors and nurses in the world. They will not allow us to use a vaccine that is not safe.

Although it was developed very quickly to save lives, it has gone through all the tests, including approvals from a panel of experts from the World Health Organisation.

Will the vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No, the vaccine will not make you sick with COVID-19.  It stops you getting sick from COVID-19.

How will I feel after the injection?

Most people will have a sore arm for a few days but will feel fine. Others may have sore muscles, feel a little tired, have a headache, or feel hot. These experiences mean that the vaccination is working, and they will go away in one or two days.

Will the vaccine change my DNA?

DNA are the building blocks that make you who you are. The vaccine will not change your DNA or who you are. The vaccine teaches your body how to recognise the virus and learn how to fight it.

Does the vaccine contain a microchip for tracking me?

The vaccine does not contain a microchip. The vaccine CANNOT be used to track you or save your personal information.

Does the vaccine have the mark of the Beast – 666?

Vaccines have no link to any religion. Vaccines cannot be filled with spirits or demons. The vaccine was developed to save our lives, not to bewitch, possess or control us.