About The COVID-19 Vaccines in South Africa

Medical professionals from around the world agree that having the COVID-19 vaccine is potentially the best hope for ending the pandemic.

Each year, vaccines save millions of lives. They work by training and preparing the body’s immune system to recognise and fight off germs. This means that if you’ve received a specific vaccination and your body is later exposed to those disease-causing germs, your immune system is able to react immediately, destroying the germ and preventing illness.




As Proposed By Goverment Based On Vaccine Availability

Corona Virus & Vaccine booklet

Proposed Vaccine rollout plan

Registration for the COVID-19 vaccination has opened for those aged 60 and above.

Register yourself or on behalf of someone from 16 April 2021 at 16:00 onwards.

Details needed for the person being registered include:

  1. Name(s) and surname
  2. RSA ID number or Passport number
  3. Gender
  4. Cell phone number
  5. Location details
  6. Where relevant, professional registration details, and medical aid details are also requested.

Vaccine FAQs

Published 21 April 2021

Profmed’s plan is for our members to be able to access vaccines at any accredited vaccination site. At this stage, government is the only procurer of vaccines and any person being vaccinated can only be done in line with government’s rollout strategy, irrespective of which medical scheme they belong to. Setting up exclusive facilities for our members would not be efficient. Profmed’s membership is made up of many healthcare professionals and so it is our preference to support local pharmacies, clinics and relevant healthcare professionals, e.g., GPs, who become accredited as vaccination sites. The vaccination sites being set up by private companies will be available to the broader public.

Published 21 April 2021

We are currently in phase 1 of the rollout strategy in which healthcare workers can register for and receive the vaccine. The registration portal has now also been opened to all members of the public who are 60 years or older. To be vaccinated you will need to register on the Electronic Vaccine Data System (EVDS), administered by government. You will only be vaccinated once you become eligible in terms of the government’s rollout strategy and once you have received an SMS informing you of the date, time and place of your vaccination.

Published 21 April 2021

Government is the only procurer of the vaccines and the only party responsible for the rollout. The private sector (across the health eco-system) has engaged with the state to support the administering of vaccines, but the timing and rollout remains in the control of government and is not always predictable as this is influenced by a number of external factors, both locally and internationally. It is difficult for us to commit to keeping you updated in this regard, due to the uncertainty the various challenges pose to the rollout strategy.

Published 21 April 2021

At this stage, the list of vaccination sites that have already been accredited is evolving and the list of private vaccination sites is continuously being updated. However, once you have registered on the EVDS system and become eligible in terms of the rollout strategy, you will receive an SMS from government informing you of the date, time and place where the vaccine will be administered to you.

Published 21 April 2021

Profmed has already identified our high-risk members, i.e. members 60 years or older and members with one or more chronic disease. However, the EVDS system will automatically prioritise who is eligible for the vaccine irrespective of which medical scheme you belong to, or not. Members who are 60 years or older may now already register on the EVDS system but will be prioritised in terms of the rollout strategy. We are also investigating the possibility of high risk members being vaccinated in their homes via our nursing partner networks, but this is in its infancy and subject to meeting the accreditation requirements.

Published 21 April 2021

The price of all medication in South Africa is determined by government in terms of the legislation governing Single Exit Pricing (SEP). At this stage, government has not published the SEP for any of the vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccination has been declared Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB) level of care and once the SEP has been published, schemes will be required to fund the full cost of the vaccine at the SEP. The cost of the administration of the vaccine is also yet to be determined and could possibly attract a co-payment if this cost is not gazetted by government and the benefit available to members is at the discretion of medical schemes.
Vaccinations administered to our members outside South Africa will be funded at the discretion of the Scheme, based on Scheme rules and subject to review.

Published 1 February 2021

Reactions to COVID-19 differ from no symptoms whatsoever to severe long-term medical complications and even death. Unfortunately, medical experts cannot say with certainty how someone will react to the virus.

With so many asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID-19, however, the chances of spreading the disease to family, friends and acquaintances remains high. Medical professionals around the world therefore believe that the best way to stop the spread of the virus is through vaccines.

Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine triggers an antibody response, which means your immune system will fight the virus if it comes into contact with it.

This has two key benefits: You’re protected from becoming sick if you come into contact with COVID-19, and you cannot spread the disease. Once 67% of a population is immunised, herd immunity is achieved, which means that the virus cannot spread because too many people are immune to it, and therefore cannot be carriers or spreaders of the virus. This was how polio was eradicated in the US in 1979 and in India in 2016.

Published 1 February 2021

There are currently two vaccines available in South Africa, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The AstraZeneca vaccine was the first to arrive on our shores, although subsequent trails conducted by Wits University and Oxford University have revealed a lower efficacy against the new strain in South Africa, which is now the dominant strain.

The first doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines have arrived, however, and these one-dose vaccines are well suited to some of the challenges we face in South Africa from a supply chain perspective.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not yet available in South Africa, although the complexities involved in administering them raises new issues. These vaccines must be stored at minus 70 degrees and minus 20 degrees respectively, and they require two shots, weeks apart.

Published 1 February 2021

Vaccines go through rigorous testing and evaluation before they are considered to be safe and effective. On average, only 7 out of every 100 vaccines developed are considered good enough to move into clinical trials on humans. Of the vaccines that do make it to clinical trials, just one in five is successful.

It’s therefore critical that many different vaccines are in development, as this increases the chances of safe and effective vaccines being produced for communities across the globe.

Published 1 February 2021

Unfortunately, it appears as though the AstraZeneca vaccine is not as effective against the new strain, although testing is continuing. At this point, researchers are investigating whether the vaccine will work in combination with other vaccines or for specific groups.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, on the other hand, offers 57% efficacy to the new strain, which is not as high as it is against the original strain, although still effective, particularly against serious illness. It’s important to remember that as the virus continues to mutate and evolve it will be important to keep track of it – and to continue researching and testing vaccines.

Published 1 February 2021

No. The authorised and recommended vaccines that have been released do not use the live COVID-19 virus, which means it is impossible to contract COVID-19 from the vaccine. Instead, the vaccine teaches the human immune system to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19.

Published 1 February 2021

It takes a few weeks for your body to build immunity after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. It’s therefore still possible to become infected with the virus while this process is taking place – and to infect others in turn. The World Health Organisation (WHO) therefore strongly recommends continuing social distancing, sanitizing and wearing a mask in public while vaccinations are being disseminated.

Published 1 February 2021

No. There is no live COVID-19 virus in the vaccines that have been approved. However, if the vaccine is successful and your body develops an immune response to COVID-19, you may test positive on some antibody tests.

Published 1 February 2021

Experts do not currently know how long people are protected from re-infection, which is why they are recommending that everyone receives the vaccine, regardless of whether or not they have contracted COVID-19 and recovered. To achieve herd immunity, 67% of the population must be protected at the same time. This will effectively stop the virus in its tracks. If you have recovered from COVID-19 but you no longer have antibodies, you could recontract the virus or become a carrier and spreader of the virus.

Published 1 February 2021

No. The COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. They work with your body’s natural defences to build an immune response to fight off the COVID-19 virus.

Published 1 February 2021

There is currently no published research on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant or breastfeeding women. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and part of a group that has been recommended to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you may choose to get it. Speak to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of the vaccine to make the most informed decision.

Published 1 February 2021

There is currently no COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 16, although several studies have begun enrolling children as young as age 12 in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.

If you are allergic to any of  the ingredients in the vaccine, or suffer from certain health conditions, it is recommended that you consult with your medical practitioner prior to getting the vaccine.

Published 1 February 2021

It can be difficult to know which sources of information you can trust, particularly with so much information available on the Internet. Before you consider any vaccine information, check that it comes from a credible resource and that the information is regularly updated.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a list of certified websites that meet strict vaccine safety credibility criteria defined by the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS).

No. Research into the efficacy of different vaccines continues, and experts are still unsure how long antibodies last. The goal is to curb the virus through large-scale vaccination at the same time, and so until it’s clear how long immunity lasts, the safety recommendations remain unchanged. Wear a mask, sanitise, social distance and avoid large gatherings of people.

Most importantly, stay at home if you’re sick and self-isolate if you’ve come into contact with someone whom you know has COVID-19.

The 80 000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines that arrived in South Africa as part of the country’s first vaccine rollout are registered for use in a research setting. It’s important to note that in late January, Johnson & Johnson reported its findings on reactions to the vaccine from its trials, which included almost 44 000 volunteers across eight countries: South Africa, the US, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Based on these trials, this vaccine has been approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), for an implementation trial in South Africa, demonstrating that Sahpra believes we have more than enough data to show that the vaccine is both safe and effective to use in South Africa.

So, if trials were concluded, why are our first J&J doses still in the research phase? There are two main reasons for this. First, Johnson & Johnson manufactured extra doses that were not used in their initial trials. They have agreed to provide South Africa with 500 000 doses for free in an implementation study. This allows Johnson & Johnson to track the real-world adoption of the vaccine. Data points will look at how well the vaccine works against the new variant, which is the dominant strain in South Africa, as well as whether there are any unanticipated side effects.

Second, it’s much faster to get a vaccine registered for use in a clinical trial than it is to get them registered for wider use. According to Sahpra, approval of a vaccine in a research setting can be given within 24 to 48 hours if sufficient information is available. Without this quick approval, it might have taken weeks before South Africa’s vaccine rollout began. As it stands, we were able to begin distributing vaccines based on our initial roll-out plan of the AstraZeneca vaccines, which arrived weeks before the Johnson & Johnson doses.

Additional information on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, including its ingredients, can be found here.

Published 23 February 2021

It will pay from the Preventative Care benefit and not from members’ benefits.

Published 23 February 2021

Profmed has engaged with several different manufacturers to procure vaccines. This has been met with the response that the manufacturers will only deal with Government at this stage. Manufacturers have indicated that they will engage with the private sector after they have concluded their negotiations with Government.

Published 23 February 2021

Yes, but will only be reimbursed at the rate charged for the vaccine in South Africa. Members residing in the SADC Region will have access to funding for the vaccine but also reimbursed at the SA vaccine cost.

Published 23 February 2021

SAHPRA is tasked with regulating (monitoring, evaluating, investigating, inspecting and registering) all health products for use in South Africa. This includes clinical trials, complementary medicines, medical devices and in-vitro diagnostics (IVDs). Furthermore, SAHPRA has the added responsibility of overseeing radiation control in South Africa. SAHPRA’s mandate is outlined in the Medicines and Related Substances Act (Act No 101 of 1965 as amended) as well as the Hazardous Substances Act (Act No 15 of 1973). Profmed can therefore not provide any assurances regarding the safety of the vaccines, nor accept any liability for any consequences that may arise from receiving the vaccine. This, however, applies to all medical treatment and devices covered by the Scheme. We suggest that you discuss the risks of the vaccines with your doctor.

Published 23 February 2021

This varies from vaccine to vaccine. Some manufacturers have claimed that a single dose will be sufficient, and others have stated that two doses will be required. The time needed between the two-dose vaccines is not clear at this stage. It is also not clear whether people will be required to be vaccinated more than once, or perhaps annually. Please consult your doctor for guidance on this matter.

Published 23 February 2021

No, this is currently not required before you get vaccinated.

Published 23 February 2021

Profmed remains financially healthy and is well-placed to remain in this position in the long term. The final cost of the vaccine is dependent on the agreed price with the various manufacturers, logistical costs, and exchange rate at the time of purchase. Profmed has sufficient reserves to cover vaccines, but this will place strain on reserves in the future.

Published 23 February 2021

When vaccines are rolled out widely, scientists expect some reports of serious health issues and deaths, simply because millions of people are receiving jabs and random problems are to be expected in such a large group.

Because COVID-19 vaccines are still experimental and there is no long-term data, scientists are being even more cautious of unforeseen side effects.

This is why several European countries, have temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine following reports that it may have caused some recipients to develop blood clots.

In response to the suspensions, AstraZeneca reviewed its data on the 17 million people who had received doses across Europe and found 37 cases of people who developed blood clots.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) continue to issue assurances that the jab is safe, although the individual cases are being investigated.

The different COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for public rollout are all new. They have been extensively tested, but this is a shifting landscape. We will be regularly updating this page based on new data, results and information.


The Minister of Health requested for medical schemes to cross-subsidise the cost of the vaccines for people who do not belong to a medical scheme. As Profmed’s reserves effectively belong to our members, we asked for their opinion regarding the funding of vaccines for non-medical scheme members. The results from the survey is not regarded as an official instruction, but merely to get insight from our members.

Below are the responses from the questions asked:

1. Would you contribute to the funding of vaccines for persons who do not belong to a medical scheme?

2. Would you agree to contribute a portion of your medical scheme
reserves towards this funding?

3. Would you prefer to voluntarily donate to a fund similar to the Solidarity Fund for those who cannot afford vaccines?

4. Would you prefer paying more taxes to fund vaccines?