COVID-19 vaccine: you’re covered!
Members of all medical schemes administered by Momentum Health Solutions can rest assured that your medical aid will cover the cost of your COVID-19 vaccine. All you need to know about COVID-19 gives you all the information about the virus and how to keep you and your family safe.
To find out when you’ll be eligible to get the vaccine, click on the button below and answer the short questionnaire.
Members of all medical schemes administered by Momentum Health Solutions can rest assured – your medical aid will cover the cost of your COVID-19 vaccine.
Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine has been declared a Prescribed Minimum Benefit by the Council for Medical Schemes and will therefore be paid for by your medical aid, irrespective of your option choice, in line with South Africa’s vaccine prioritisation guidelines.
Yes, Momentum Health4Me members will also be covered for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Frontline healthcare workers started receiving vaccinations in February 2021. High-risk individuals will be able to register for their vaccine once healthcare workers have been vaccinated. Following that second phase, individuals over the age of 18 will be able to register for their vaccine. The co-morbidities that qualify individuals as being at high risk as far as it relates to COVID-19 are:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathies
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
Take the COVID-19 questionnaire to find out when you’re eligible to get vaccinated.
If you’re a healthcare worker, you can self-register for the vaccine
There will be three phases divided into priority groups that will have access to the vaccine. This phased approach will ensure that frontline healthcare workers and high-risk citizens have first access to the vaccine.
Frontline healthcare workers are eligible to get their vaccine from February 2021. The target population is 1 250 000.
Essential workers, persons in congregate settings, people over 60 years, and people older than 18 with related co-morbidities, are eligible for the vaccine 3 months after start. The target population is roughly 16.6 million.
All other people oldr than 18 years will receive the vaccine 6 months after the start date. This is about 22.5 million of the South African population.
Medical schemes administered by Momentum Health Solutions reacted very early in identifying the need to make provision for the funding of COVID-19 vaccines and factored this into its annual contribution increases for the schemes that it administers.
If enough South Africans get the COVID-19 vaccine, the country can achieve herd immunity, which is the indirect protection from infectious disease that becomes possible when a sufficient percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through vaccination or previous infections, thereby reducing the likelihood of infection for individuals who lack immunity.
The quicker we achieve herd immunity, the fewer lives may be lost as a result of the pandemic. The South African economy will also be able to recover quicker from the impact of this world-wide threat, preventing further job losses.
The vaccine takes several days to become effective after you’ve received it. The general consensus at present is that you should wait until you’ve recovered or your quarantine period is over and then get vaccinated.
There have been no studies performed to prove the efficacy or interaction between any two vaccines. Once the safety of co-administration has been determined, this is an option that you can discuss with your doctor.
Based on publicly available data (at time of publishing), no vaccine has been proven to be safe for co-administration with other childhood vaccinations administered to children under the age of 12. Tests are still underway to find suitable COVID-19 vaccines for children.
COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild side effects, such as pain, redness or swelling where the shot was given, fever, fatigue, headache, chills and muscle or joint pain. These side effects are normal signs that your immune system is building protection against the virus. Most side effects occur within the first three days of vaccination and usually only last a day or two.
These side effects can mimic symptoms of COVID-19. Self-isolate if you experience symptoms more than three days after being vaccinated lasting more than two days.
Some people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine experienced severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). These events are very rare – out of the 1.9 million people who received the first shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, there were only 21 reported cases of severe allergic reactions.
Experts urge that the data on anaphylaxis should not scare people away from getting vaccinated. The risk of developing severe outcomes from COVID-19 is much higher than the risk of an allergic reaction from the vaccine.
Still, healthcare workers must be prepared to treat reactions in the rare event they occur. As such, patients are asked to stay for 15 minutes to be monitored after vaccination – which is when most allergic reactions occur.
Those with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications may still get the vaccine. However, these patients are advised to be monitored for at least 30 minutes after vaccination.
Patients with a history of immediate allergic reactions to vaccines and injectable medications should discuss the risks with their doctor. Do not get a vaccine if you are allergic to polysorbate.
Finally, if you have an immediate allergic reaction after getting the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, please consult your doctor on whether you should get the second dose.
Some people who received the vaccine have had flu-like symptoms, including body aches, chills and fever. If you experience these side effects, it's a normal response and a sign that your body is building a protection against the virus. In clinical trials, some participants experienced more side effects after the second dose.
The vaccine cannot give you the virus. This is true of traditional vaccines made from dead viruses, and almost always true of live, attenuated vaccines, which in rare cases, can cause mild illness in some vulnerable populations. What’s more, the current vaccines on the market (Pfizer/BioNTech and J&J) do not contain the entire virus, so it’s impossible for these vaccines to give you COVID-19.
The new COVID-19 vaccines teach your immune system to recognise and fight the virus. This protects you from getting sick with COVID-19. But a vaccine needs time to provide protection after it’s received. COVID-19 vaccines that require 2 shots, such as the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, may not protect you until a week or two after your second shot.
Remember, you could be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus just before or just after vaccination and get sick. So, it’s very important to continue the usual risk mitigation activities – wearing a mask, physical distancing, hand hygiene, etc.
Scientists aren’t sure. There’s not enough evidence from the clinical trials of the vaccines to confirm whether the vaccines also prevent asymptomatic infection and transmission. The companies say research is ongoing to determine the answer.
No. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change your DNA in any way. The term mRNA means messenger RNA vaccines. These vaccines teach your cells how to make a specific protein that triggers your immune system to fight back against the COVID-19 virus and protect against future COVID-19 infections. The mRNA never enters the nucleus of your cells where your DNA is located.
The short answer: yes. Researchers say there are still too many unknowns about how long immunity lasts from natural infection. Though immunity from COVID-19 vaccines is yet to be determined, research shows that vaccine immunity tends to be stronger than natural immunity. Health experts advise that those who have been recently diagnosed or exposed to the virus should delay vaccination or wait about 90 days from the time of diagnosis to get vaccinated.
While approved vaccines report strong efficacy rates in preventing illness, getting one doesn’t mean you’ll immediately be able to stop wearing a mask and no longer need to adhere to social distancing . That’s because studies of these vaccines only measured if people develop symptoms, not if they can still spread the virus. There’s still a possibility that the virus could live in your respiratory tract, even if you’re generating enough antibodies elsewhere in the body to prevent you from getting sick. In other words, even if you get vaccinated and are protected from the worst effects of the disease, you may be an asymptomatic carrier and still transmit the virus to others without knowing it.
Based on what is known about the flu vaccine and patients who have had COVID-19, researchers are hopeful that these vaccines will not only prevent illness, but will also prevent transmission. Still, it’s too early to definitively say that the vaccines will stop the spread of COVID-19.
Lastly, even if you get vaccinated, there is still a risk that you will get sick. While approved vaccines are shown to be highly effective, they are not 100% effective. Until enough people get vaccinated (about 70% of the population), experts urge that social distancing, mask wearing, and meticulous hand hygiene will need to be continued to reduce the risk.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Though experts wrestle with the exact timeline when “normal life” may resume, many believe that a vaccine will hasten the end of the pandemic and that a mask-free existence will come sooner rather than later.
Natural immunity varies from person to person. Since the COVID-19 virus is so new, experts aren’t certain how long it lasts. But current data suggests that reinfection with the virus within 90 days after the first infection is uncommon. Therefore, people with a recent infection may wait until after the 90-day period to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
There is limited data about the effects of immunosuppressant medications on infection risk. However, current evidence shows that people taking disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), including biologics, are not at a higher risk for getting COVID-19. In fact, experts believe that well-controlled disease activity may help decrease the risk of infection, so in that regard, medication is beneficial.
Additionally, patients taking biologics, JAK inhibitors and conventional DMARDs, such as methotrexate, do not seem to have an increased risk of severe disease or hospitalisation, according to findings presented at the virtual European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) 2020 Congress.
There is one important exception: People taking corticosteroids (e.g. prednisone) at doses of 10 mg or higher have an increased risk of being hospitalised with any infection, including a COVID-19 infection. But do not stop taking corticosteroids (also called glucocorticoids) suddenly. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking these medications. If the decision is to stop, work with your doctor to taper safely.
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus, contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor will help you decide the best course of action.
There is no advisory against vaccinating immune-compromised patients and those on immunosuppressant medicines, and experts say there is no reason to believe that the current COVID-19 vaccines on the market will be unsafe for these populations.
Some disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) have been shown to blunt immune responses to other vaccines such as those for influenza, pneumonia and Hepatitis B. Whether holding or delaying DMARD therapies might lead to improved vaccine responses with available and emerging COVID vaccines is currently unknown.
People who have a history of severe allergic reactions should talk to their doctor about the safety of getting a vaccine at the present time.
Data continues to be collected on the effects of vaccines for immunocompromised patients and those with autoimmune disease, so talk to your healthcare provider about the considerations for getting vaccinated.
There is no evidence that taking NSAIDs worsens the coronavirus or increases infection risk. Health experts recommend that people who need NSAIDs for pain relief or disease management continue to use them as directed. However, if you develop a COVID-19 infection, contact your doctor immediately for advice.
You will be able to find the latest information on distribution, priority groups and whether you’re eligible to receive a vaccine on www.nicd.ac.za, the official website of the National Institute of Communicable Disease.