COVID-19 Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions 2021-08-25T19:31:32+00:00

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COVID-19 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

COVID -19 and Medical Aid Cover Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do medical aids cover COVID-19 tests and treatment? 2021-08-25T19:34:17+00:00

Yes, COVID-19 was classified as a prescribed minimum benefit (PMB) in May 2020.

2. What is a PMB? 2021-08-25T19:34:12+00:00

A PMB is a set of healthcare conditions that must be funded from risk benefits by medical schemes

3. What COVID-19 cover do I get from my medical scheme? 2021-08-27T08:00:32+00:00

The scheme covers all medical consultations related to the virus. It also covers diagnostic tests. PMB Guide

4. Will my medical aid cover more than one COVID-19 test? 2021-08-27T08:01:09+00:00

According to the PMB guidelines, only one test is covered in full, regardless of whether the patient tests positive or negative for COVID-19.

COVID -19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should I get vaccinated? 2021-08-26T07:24:31+00:00

The dangers of contracting COVID-19 outweigh the side effects of vaccination. Vaccines reduce a person’s risk of contracting COVID-19 infection but, most importantly, they reduce your chances of getting severe disease and or dying from COVID-19.

2. What are the benefits of getting vaccinated? 2021-08-25T19:33:46+00:00

Vaccination keeps you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19; it helps you protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness. Long-term benefits include disease containment. However, one still needs to adhere to all stipulated COVID-19 protocols; this includes the wearing of masks etc..

3. Do I need to wear a mask and avoid close contact with others if I am fully vaccinated? 2021-08-25T19:33:38+00:00

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), once you are fully vaccinated you can resume many activities that you did before the pandemic. In a recent study, however, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people continue to wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.

4. I am pregnant or breastfeeding; can l vaccinate? 2021-08-25T19:33:32+00:00

According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill than non-pregnant people. Getting the vaccine can protect you from severe illness.

Recent reports have shown that pregnant women who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 have antibodies during their third trimester and pass the antibodies on to their foetuses, which could help protect them after birth.

5. What are the common side effects of the vaccine? 2021-08-25T19:33:27+00:00

Like any vaccine, COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild, short-term side effects, such as a low-grade fever, or pain or redness at the injection site. Most reactions to vaccines are mild and go away within a few days on their own. More serious or long-lasting side effects to vaccines are possible but extremely rare. Vaccines are continually monitored by the Regulator for as long as they are in use, to detect rare adverse events and implement approaches to limit their occurrence. [1]

6. Should I take a blood thinner a few days after taking the vaccine? 2021-08-25T19:33:21+00:00

No, you should not take a blood thinner unless your healthcare provider has prescribed that medication to treat an existing health condition. COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people taking blood thinners, but you should let the person giving you the vaccine know about any medication you are taking beforehand. [2]

 

 

7. Can I still get infected after taking the vaccine? 2021-08-25T19:33:15+00:00

Yes, but the risk is much, much lower than for persons who have not received the vaccine. There are two scenarios where a person could get COVID-19 after receiving a vaccine:

  • A person may have been exposed to COVID-19 within 10-14 days before receiving the vaccine. When the vaccine is given, they are in the ‘incubation period’ (similar to a ‘window’ period). At the time that the vaccine is given, the person does not have symptoms, but symptoms such as cough, fever, headache and body aches and pains develop with 7-10 days of receiving the vaccine. If COVID-like symptoms occur and persist (i.e. they stay or get worse) during the 7-10 days after getting the vaccine, a person should see a medical practitioner immediately.
  • A person may develop a ‘breakthrough infection’ at any time (weeks, months or years) after the vaccine. The vaccine trials have shown us that there are ‘breakthrough’ infections after all types of vaccinations against SARS-CoV-2. But breakthrough infections occur much less frequently in persons who have been vaccinated, and these infections are usually mild-to-moderate and don’t require admission. Trials published to date show that vaccine effectiveness ranges from 65% to 95%. An excellent summary of current evidence showing how effective COVID-19 vaccines are may be found on the CDC website.[3]
8. How long does it take after the COVID-19 vaccine before I’m protected? 2021-08-25T19:33:09+00:00

People are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech, or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. There are good data emerging to show that breakthrough asymptomatic infections (COVID-19 infections following vaccination) are uncommon within 10 days (1 in 100) after one dose, and extremely uncommon (1 in 1000) after two doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna vaccines). The infections following vaccination are usually mild and do not require hospitalisation. [4]

9. Should I get the vaccine even after having COVID-19? 2021-08-25T19:33:04+00:00

Even if you have already had COVID-19, you should be vaccinated when it is offered to you. The vaccine should be taken 30-35 days after the COVID-19 Infection period is over. Please discuss with your health service practitioner. The protection that someone gains from having COVID-19 will vary from person to person, and at this stage we also don’t know how long natural immunity might last. [5]

10. Should I eat or drink differently a day or two after being vaccinated? 2021-08-25T19:32:58+00:00

The effectiveness of the vaccine is not dependent on any food or drink before or after taking the vaccine. [6]

11. Can the vaccine cause a positive test for COVID-19? 2021-08-25T19:32:53+00:00

No, the vaccine will not cause a positive COVID-19 PCR or antigen laboratory test result. This is because the tests check for active disease and not whether an individual is immune or not. However, because the COVID-19 vaccine prompts an immune response, it may be possible to test positive in an antibody (serology) test that measures COVID-19 immunity. [7]

12. What should the timing be between the first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine? 2021-08-25T19:32:48+00:00

The South African government has chosen to wait an interval of 42 days between the first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This decision was taken after evidence showed that older patients who delay the second dose of mRNA vaccines have a much stronger immune response.[8]

13. Does the Pfizer vaccine work against the Delta variant? 2021-08-25T19:32:41+00:00

Yes. The two-dose Pfizer vaccine has been shown to reduce a person’s risk of being hospitalised with COVID-19 caused by the new variant by 94% after just one dose. Data from the United Kingdom’s health department show that this protection increases to 96% when someone receives both doses of the jab required to be fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2.[9]

14. Will the Johnson and Johnson vaccine protect me against the Delta variant? 2021-08-25T19:32:32+00:00

Recent local J&J study results indicate good protection against the Delta variant. More studies are needed to assess the effectiveness of current COVID-19 vaccines against the variants. A growing body of data suggests that most vaccines stimulate enough immunity to retain substantial efficacy against most variants, especially for severe disease, hospitalisation and death. The impact of the variants on efficacy against mild disease and against infection without disease is more impacted than the more severe outcomes.[10]

15. If I am allergic to certain medicines, can I still take the COVID-19 vaccine? 2021-08-25T19:32:27+00:00

Allergic reactions to any kind of medicine are usually ‘specific’ to that kind of medicine. In other words, an allergy to one kind of medicine does not mean that a person will be allergic to all medicines, or all vaccines. So, if a person is allergic to penicillin, for example, they can still receive a COVID-19 vaccine without fear of an allergic reaction.[11] Please discuss your allergy with your health service provider.

16. Can I take the COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant? 2021-08-25T19:32:22+00:00

The South African government has indicated that pregnant women may be vaccinated when the benefit of vaccinating (e.g. health workers at high risk of exposure or pregnant women with co-morbidities) outweighs the potential vaccine risks. SARS-CoV-2 vaccine trials excluded pregnant woman from participation so there are fewer data on vaccine safety during pregnancy. However, as the vaccine has been rolled out, women who did not know they were pregnant were vaccinated. Their experiences are being monitored globally, even in South Africa. To date, no negative effects have been reported. It is helpful to know that all COVID-19 vaccines that have been rolled out were tested on pregnant animals and no adverse effects were reported. The WHO does not recommend pregnancy testing before COVID-19 vaccination.[12]

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19? 2021-08-25T19:32:16+00:00

If you test positive for COVID-19 and your symptoms are mild, you need to isolate at home and, if possible, in a separate room away from your loved ones. If your condition worsens, please seek medical help as soon as possible. 

 Guidelines after testing positive: 

  • Refrain from going out and to work.
  • Stop using public transport.
  • Self-isolate, ideally alone in a room and away from other family members or roommates, for a period of no less that 10 days.
  • If practical, avoid sharing a bathroom with other individuals.
  • If you have to share a bathroom with others, be mindful to clean commonly touched surfaces after every use to minimise the risk of infection.
  • During the quarantine period it’s important to keep an eye on your symptoms and to call your doctor if you are concerned about your health. Serious symptoms include shortness of breath or struggling to breathe. If these symptoms persist, you should seek immediate medical attention at a hospital facility.
  • Those living on their own should ask family or friends to assist with grocery shopping, or make use of online delivery services for quick and convenient deliveries.
  • Pet owners should ask for assistance in taking care of their pets. If this is not an option, wear a mask and wash your hands before and after any interaction with your pets. And even though it will be difficult, remember to avoid cuddles.
  • Those who share accommodation (hostels, university residences or similar) with communal kitchens, bathrooms and living areas, should remain in their room and only leave when necessary (wearing a mask if they do so).
  • When doing laundry, it is recommended to wash items at the highest possible temperature (compatible with the fabric). This should be above 60°C if possible. Be mindful to clean the area around the washing machine.
  • Laundry should not be taken to a launderette.
  • If possible, the items should be tumble dried and ironed using the highest setting compatible with the fabric.
  • If you are unable to meet the minimum criteria to safely self-isolate, you should be admitted to an appropriate isolation facility, if available.

If you manage your symptoms in the safety of your residence, you can de-isolate after 10 days if no new symptoms have presented, but only if you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without pharmaceutical intervention.[13]

2. How is COVID-19 treated? 2021-08-25T19:32:11+00:00

Treatment is supportive (e.g. provision of oxygen for patients with shortness of breath or treatment for fever). Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. However, antibiotics may be required if a bacterial secondary infection develops. There are several studies in progress using different medications that may have some effectiveness against the virus. Remdesivir is a repurposed antiviral drug. Data are conflicting as to the clinical benefits of this agent and more data are awaited.[14]

3. How to quarantine at home? 2021-08-25T19:32:06+00:00

Isolate for 14 days. If possible, stay and sleep alone in a room that has a window with good air flowing through. You can talk to other family members and go outside, but you should stay at least two metres away from everyone at all times.
You should not have visitors at your house during this time.
One family member should be assigned as your caregiver. This exposes fewer members of your family and also ensures that you and this caregiver can develop good habits so that they do not catch the virus from you. If these procedures are not possible, you should contact your healthcare worker or clinic for alternative options.[15]

4. Can a person who has been infected with coronavirus get infected again? 2021-08-25T19:31:59+00:00

Yes, maybe with a different strain of the COVID19 Virus. People who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection are usually protected from being infected a second time (so-called reinfection). This is because they develop neutralising antibodies that remain in their blood for at least 5-6 months, maybe longer. We now know that these mutations have allowed the virus to become resistant to antibody neutralisation.

It is therefore important that people who have previously had COVID-19 continue to adhere to public health measures. Protecting ourselves through masks, regular washing or sanitising of hands, cleaning of surfaces and social distancing remains the best defence against all SARS-CoV-2 viruses, including the new lineage.[16]

5. How do I know if I have recovered from COVID-19? 2021-08-25T19:31:02+00:00

It is important to note that there is a difference between being fully recovered and being ready to come out of isolation.

The following criteria are specified for de-isolation of a person who tests positive for COVID-19:

  • Symptomatic patientswith mild disease (not requiring hospitalisation) can be de-isolated 10 days after the onset of their symptoms, provided their fever has resolved and their other symptoms are improving.
  • Hospitalised patientswith moderate-to-severe disease (who require hospitalisation) can be de-isolated 10 days after achievement of clinical stability (i.e. from when they no longer require supplemental oxygen and are otherwise clinically stable).
  • Asymptomatic patientscan be de-isolated 10 days after their test.
  • Repeat PCR testing is not required to de-isolate a patient and is not recommended.

It is common for patients to continue to have symptoms for longer than the 10 days. Full recovery may take several weeks for some patients, especially in respect of symptoms such as fatigue, cough and anosmia (loss of sense of smell).

Patients who are still symptomatic at the end of their isolation period can be de-isolated provided that their fever has resolved and their other symptoms have shown improvement. Patients admitted to hospital can continue their isolation period at home or at an isolation facility once clinical stability has been achieved.[17]

References

[1] (Who.int. 2021. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Vaccines safety. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-vaccines-safety> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[2] Who.int. 2021. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Vaccines safety. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-vaccines-safety> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[3] NICD. 2021. COVID-19 VACCINE FAQ – NICD. [online] Available at: <https://www.nicd.ac.za/covid-19-vaccine-faq/> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[4] NICD. 2021. COVID-19 VACCINE FAQ – NICD. [online] Available at: <https://www.nicd.ac.za/covid-19-vaccine-faq/> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[5] NICD. 2021. COVID-19 VACCINE FAQ – NICD. [online] Available at: <https://www.nicd.ac.za/covid-19-vaccine-faq/> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[6] Who.int. 2021. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Vaccines. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-vaccines?topicsurvey=v8kj13)&gclid=CjwKCAjwgviIBhBkEiwA10D2j6TEiWO0KDtqxrt7UtlnkHUmpdhJP-OzXoEIv1if7MYzvMkkjVk4QRoCeqMQAvD_BwE> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[7] Who.int. 2021. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Vaccines. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-vaccines?topicsurvey=v8kj13)&gclid=CjwKCAjwgviIBhBkEiwA10D2j6TEiWO0KDtqxrt7UtlnkHUmpdhJP-OzXoEIv1if7MYzvMkkjVk4QRoCeqMQAvD_BwE> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[8] NICD. 2021. COVID-19 VACCINE FAQ – NICD. [online] Available at: <https://www.nicd.ac.za/covid-19-vaccine-faq/> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[9] Spotlight. 2021. COVID-19: Eight common questions answered about the Delta variant. [online] Available at: <https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2021/07/02/covid-19-eight-common-questions-answered-about-the-delta-variant/> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[10] Spotlight. 2021. COVID-19: Eight common questions answered about the Delta variant. [online] Available at: <https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2021/07/02/covid-19-eight-common-questions-answered-about-the-delta-variant/> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[11] NICD. 2021. COVID-19 VACCINE FAQ – NICD. [online] Available at: <https://www.nicd.ac.za/covid-19-vaccine-faq/> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[12] NICD. 2021. COVID-19 VACCINE FAQ – NICD. [online] Available at: <https://www.nicd.ac.za/covid-19-vaccine-faq/> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[13] NICD. 2021. COVID-19 VACCINE FAQ – NICD. [online] Available at: <https://www.nicd.ac.za/covid-19-vaccine-faq/> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[14] Gov.za. 2021. Frequently Asked Questions – Coronavirus COVID-19 | South African Government. [online] Available at: <https://www.gov.za/coronavirus/faq> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[15] SA Corona Virus Online Portal. 2021. Self-Isolation Vs Quarantine – SA Corona Virus Online Portal. [online] Available at: <https://sacoronavirus.co.za/2020/03/28/self-isolation-vs-quarantine/?gclid=CjwKCAjwgviIBhBkEiwA10D2j0G4U7xzJbPFO8vKnvo-AdCFpOIkCiGAy0erMD79gRpmnhoUaT67ThoCsF4QAvD_BwE> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[16] NICD. 2021. Can I be re-infected with the new variant if I’ve had COVID-19? – NICD. [online] Available at: <https://www.nicd.ac.za/can-i-be-re-infected-with-the-new-variant-if-ive-had-covid-19/> [Accessed 19 August 2021].
[17] NICD. 2021. How do I know I have recovered from COVID-19? – NICD. [online] Available at: <https://www.nicd.ac.za/how-do-i-know-i-have-recovered-from-covid-19/> [Accessed 19 August 2021].