Limpopo nurse confident Covid-19 vaccine will protect her and her child cancer patients

Gauteng health workers to get Covid-19 vaccines
The Covid-19 vaccine programme kicked off on 17 February. (Markus Spiske/Unsplash)
Written by Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

This Limpopo cancer nurse got the Covid-19 vaccine this week. She believes the vaccine will not only protect her, but the children diagnosed with cancer who she takes care of.

Oncology nurse Tahulela Patient Lehaha was relieved to be one of the health care workers who received the Covid-19 vaccine.

Stationed at a children’s cancer ward at the Polokwane Provincial hospital in Limpopo, she says the vaccine will not only protect her, but her young patients too. South African healthcare workers are currently being vaccinated against Covid-19, using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. So far, more than 67,000 workers have already been inoculated.

“I am relieved that I have finally received my jab for Covid-19, and I am confident that this will go a long way in protecting both me, my patients and other people,” she told Health-e News.

Patients with cancer have a weakened immune system, reducing their bodies’ ability to fight infection, according to Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA). Some cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can stop the bone marrow from making enough of the white blood cells needed to fight illness.

While she always practiced Covid-19 preventative measures, Lehaha admits she was “scared” every time when she went to work. The 37-year-old feared she had contracted the coronavirus and would end up infecting children who are fighting cancer.

“My biggest fear is to see those children being infected with the virus as I know the risks which Covid-19 can pose to their health,” she said. “I believe that the vaccine I have received will go a long way in protecting both of us from this virus.”

Still practicing preventative methods

Despite being vaccinated against the coronavirus, Lehaha says she will not stop practicing Covid-19 preventative measures.

“But just because I have been vaccinated it does not mean I have to stop practicing the Covid-19 preventative measures such as the wearing of face masks, social distancing, sanitizing or washing hands all the times with water and soap. I will still continue to be extra careful and protect myself from this virus,” said Lehaha.

Lehaha’s stance is in line with global practices.

“Safe and effective vaccines will be a game-changer, but for the foreseeable future, we must continue wearing masks, physically distancing and avoiding crowds,” says the World Health Organisation. “Being vaccinated does not mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk, particularly because it is still not clear the degree to which vaccines can protect not only against disease but also against infection and transmission.”

Lehaha has also encouraged other healthcare workers and the general South African population to take the Covid-19 vaccine when their turn comes. She believes it is the only way the country can defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Though I have seen several reports of myths which are associated with the Covid-19 vaccines, I was never scared to receive the jab and luckily I never experienced any side-effects, as everything was just normal in my body after receiving the jab,” said Lehaha.

“To some of my fellow countrymen and women whom might still be sceptical about receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, I would like to say to them that there is nothing to be scared of as vaccines are the only way out of this pandemic.” —Health-e News

About the author

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho is citizen journalist who is based in the Vhembe District of Limpopo province. He joined OurHealth in 2015 and his interests lie in investigative journalism and reporting the untold stories of disadvantaged rural communities. Ndivhuwo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies from the University of Venda and he is currently a registered student with UNISA.