Adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are being closely monitored in South Africa.

The country is prioritizing the safety of its citizens by closely tracking adverse reactions after vaccination.

South Africa focused on vaccinating healthcare workers during phase one of its vaccine campaign. The country began its second phase on May 17th for people 60 years and older. To date, just over a million medical staff and public citizens have been vaccinated. Health workers received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine whilst the Pfizer vaccine was introduced to the public for phase two. Since all vaccines and medications have side effects, a key aspect of the vaccination campaign is to monitor adverse reactions after vaccination, especially to build trust and confidence. If the public knows that all adverse reactions are taken seriously and proper measures are taken, people will trust that the vaccine is safe.

A National Committee of Experts on Immunization Safety was established to investigate and report on adverse reactions after vaccination. Each province and district have staff responsible for this investigation however, any person can report a reaction via the MedSafety App or by completing a Case Report Form. Once the provincial or district team receive the medical records of people who have had adverse reactions, they present them to the committee. The Committee uses an algorithm generated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to categorize the reaction. A finalized report then goes to the WHO for global monitoring. Monitoring adverse reactions on a national or global scale can detect rare events – of which a risk-benefit decision can be made to determine whether the vaccine should continue.