Life after the vaccine: what to expect once you’ve had the jab


Jade Poole from I write words

Life after the vaccine

Although the vaccine rollout may be taking slower than anticipated, it’s never too early to start talking about what it means once you’ve been vaccinated.

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the vaccine rollout that has been the talk of the town (or the entire globe) for months now and now we’re already on phase 2!

Whilst healthcare workers on the frontline have been working tirelessly to save COVID-19 patients, others have been hard at work to create a successful vaccine to halt the virus in its track.

Vaccinations are created to combat certain deadly or contagious viruses. What a vaccine does is stimulate antibodies to prep your immune system against a specific virus. This means that should that virus ever enter your body again, your immune system will have the right tools to fight the virus off.

Who is eligible for the vaccine?

Whilst our government has promised that there will be enough vaccines available for whoever needs them, there are members of our community who will be first in line. Now that we are in phase two of the vaccination rollout, who will be most eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination? People over 60 years of age, essential workers, persons in congregations and individuals with comorbidities who are over 18 years old.

If you want to apply to be vaccinated, you can pop onto the official government application page here.

When are you fully vaccinated?

Throughout the pandemic, South Africa developed our own 501Y.V2 variant of the virus. Because of this, we were the first country in the world to roll out the Johnson & Johnson vaccination. There are three main types of vaccine available across the globe:

  • Moderna
  • Pfizer
  • Johnson & Johnson

The first two, Moderna and Pfizer are double dose vaccinations which means you need to have two doses before you are fully vaccinated. Full vaccination happens two weeks after the second dose of these vaccines.

The single-dose vaccine is the one that applies to South Africans. We are part of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination program which means we only need one dose of the vaccine and then to wait two weeks until we are considered fully vaccinated.

Post-vaccination symptoms

The vaccination will be administered into your upper arm and, unless you’re terrified of needles, should be a relatively painless experience.

The first symptoms you may notice will be surrounding the injection area. Your upper arm may feel a bit tender, swollen and sore. This should subside in about 24 hours and isn’t anything to be alarmed about. If the swelling worsens after the first 24 hours, give your doctor a call.

Whilst some people will have no symptoms after their vaccine, your body can also have physical reactions to the vaccination. If you are getting vaccinated, chat to your doctor about stocking up on medicines like ibuprofen, antihistamines or aspirin to help alleviate your symptoms.

Physical symptoms include: 

  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Remember that it takes a while for your body to be protected against any virus, so you should still practise good safety precautions against getting sick or getting other people sick.

What happens after you are vaccinated?

You might be wondering about what happens once you are armed and ready to fight off the Coronavirus. Well, you’ll be much closer to normal than any of us has been in a while!

Remember that no vaccination can guarantee you will never get sick. Whilst you have antibodies in your body that can fight the virus off, you can still catch COVID-19 but you are 100% protected against dying from the virus. You can still get mildly or moderately ill but you no longer need to fear losing your life to the Coronavirus.

What does the CDC say?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement letting us know what fully vaccinated people can do and it’s pretty exciting! People who are fully vaccinated are significantly safer in public spaces. Here are what fully vaccinated people can do:

  1. Socialise in groups (amongst other vaccinated people) without using a mask.
  2. You can gather inside with other households even if they have not been vaccinated without using a mask. However, use your common sense when it comes to interacting with people who have comorbidities or who are high risk.
  3. If you come into contact with a COVID-19 positive person, you do not need to quarantine for 14 days. Score!

Aside from that, the CDC also advises that fully vaccinated people remain vigilant and cautious when they’re in public. Your health is still precious and should always come first!


Yours in health insurance,


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