"Vaccines save lives" - Dr Sumy Thomas


Dr Sumy Thomas says that for the elderly and people who live with chronic illnesses and comorbidities, COVID-19 vaccines are "a matter of life and death". She explains the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine and encourages everyone, especially the elderly, to get vaccinated.

Listen to Dr Sumy Thomas unpack the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine:

"Vaccines save lives"

Dr Sumy Thomas is a specialist physician at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Discovery Foundation MGH Fellowship Award.

Standing together for a safer, healthier South Africa

Dr Thomas says despite all the challenges of the pandemic, it has also brought out the best in people. "Seeing that we're all in it together and seeing people trying to uplift and help others has really helped. No one is really alone," she says.

She has a powerful analogy to share about the role we each play in making a success of the national vaccine rollout:

"I want to compare this time we're going through with the 1994 democratic elections where people lined up to vote in the hope of creating a better, safer and happier South Africa.

"Now, 27 years later, we've reached the same point where South Africans will be queueing once again with the same aims in mind. It's momentous and I hope we reach what we're aiming for, which is a safer, healthier South Africa."

This is her message to the South African public: "Vaccines save lives"

"Vaccines have been developed following a lot of research," says Dr Thomas. "There were many clinical trials to test if the vaccines are safe before they were rolled out."

"To me the bottom line is - vaccines save lives," she says.

"Ultimately, I encourage all South Africans to be vaccinated - not only to protect themselves but also to protect everyone around them," she adds. "It's a matter of public health. We need to reach herd immunity and cross over to a safer and happier South Africa."

"I encourage all young people to assist those around them"

Dr Thomas lists access to technology and transport as two barriers to getting vaccinated, especially for elderly and poor people.

"I encourage all young people to assist those around them so we can speed up this process and get everyone vaccinated as soon as possible," she says.

"Everyone should look around in their communities, within their families, to make sure that everyone is able to register for and access their COVID-19 vaccine."

"The vaccine has given me peace of mind"

Dr Thomas explains what the vaccine means to her and her healthcare colleagues.

"When the pandemic first started, it was uncharted territory. We didn't know what to expect and the first and second waves were worse than any of us expected," she says.

"We knew that vaccine trials were being conducted and that vaccines were on the horizon, and there was a glimmer of hope that we could go back to a sense of normalcy."

Dr Thomas received her vaccine in the first week of the national rollout which started on 17 February 2021.

Dr Sumy Thomas (right) and Dr Lisa Galvin (left) celebrate their vaccines.

"Having the vaccine has given me peace of mind," she says. "All healthcare workers fear that we could contract COVID-19 at any time, or that we could be asymptomatic and pass it on to the limited friends and family we do see. Knowing the efficacy of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine we had, I feel safer and my friends and family are safer."

"There's COVID fatigue among healthcare workers. The pandemic can't carry on forever and people can't work at this pace forever," she adds. "The vaccine has given us hope that we can reach herd immunity hopefully in the next year - and that we can get control of this virus before it causes more destruction."

Related articles

4 min read
No matter how you're spending your time over the holidays, it's important to adhere to the preventive measures that limit your exposure to COVID-19 and keep you and others safe.
5 min read
Remarkable technology has fuelled the development of the various COVID-19 vaccines being produced around the world.
5 min read
This article - the first in a series of two - explains the words we all need to understand to be able to understand the ins and outs of COVID-19 vaccines (and all vaccines).


Log in

Please click here to login into Discovery Digital Id

Please click here to login into Discovery Digital Id