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#VaccineSummer! What People Aged 18-34 Being Vaccinated Means for the Pandemic and the Country

Why some vaccinated people are ready to go out and others are cautious

On July 25th, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in a family meeting that as of 1 September all those aged between 18 and 34 could register for their COVID-19 vaccination. However, on August 19, almost two weeks earlier, the government declared that those between 18-34 years old could register the next day on Friday 20 August. The announcement comes after age groups of 60 and over, 50-59 and 35-49 have already received their first and second doses of the vaccine. The latest statistics show that 26.8% of the country’s population have been vaccinated, with 5.21 billion doses being administered. However there have been 2.09 billion people that have been fully vaccinated, as some vaccines such as Pfizer requires two doses within a six-week period. 

The excitement of the surprising announcement was evident in the numbers of people who went to get their vaccinations on the same day as registering. Reports showed that over half a million people in the 18-34 age category registered on the first day of registration and around 560 000 people were vaccinated in the first four days since the age group opened up. It is in the hopes of many people that as more and more of the country’s population receive their vaccine doses, fewer and fewer people will contract COVID-19 and restrictions can begin to ease up. However, this can only be done in moderation as many people forget to still be safe and cautious after being vaccinated. With new variants of the virus it is important to remain careful.

It is always being stated that even after receiving your vaccine you could still contract the virus, and while it doesn’t remove your chances of testing positive, it does reduce the risk. The pandemic is still ongoing and even after majority of the country has been vaccinated, we still need to follow precautions. A big misconception around the vaccine has been that it is a cure… but it is rather a protection. The difference between being vaccinated and being unvaccinated is that contracting the virus could mean a world of difference, as the vaccine helps in the prevention of developing serious symptoms.

As someone who falls into the 18-34 category, I was thrilled to hear I could get my vaccine earlier than expected and couldn’t wait to go! I found the process of my vaccination quick and safe and while I was admittedly a little nervous, I later found I had nothing to worry about. I was excited to receive my vaccination because I understand what being vaccinated means and as a country, we’ve felt disappointed since we’ve seen friends in other countries such as England and America able to go out and gather with friends after mass vaccine rollouts, while we waited our turn.

The question is, should people be getting ready to go out after being vaccinated or should they still be cautious regardless? It’s key to remember that it is dependant on which vaccine you receive that determines when you can start to get out more. While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose, the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses so it is imperative to still be as safe as possible between vaccinations. Some people have received their first dose and have not waited for their second before going out and spending time in groups.

As more and more people continue to get their doses of the vaccine, there is a more hopeful sense of how we will be able to move forward and it is understandable that while some vaccinated people are ready to go out more, others aren’t. We are all working at a different pace in terms of comfortability with COVID-19. It is always important to be cautious even after being vaccinated and it is always best to stay as safe and careful as possible, but the increased number of vaccinations is a big step in the right direction.

Sarah has recently finished her fourth year at the University of Cape Town focusing her postgraduate honours degree in Linguistics. She completed her undergraduate in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Linguistics, English Literature and Media Studies. She enjoys learning languages and writing, as well as sitcoms and technology.