Sport can be a powerful tool in raising awareness against a burning issue or fighting an ill. The past 16 months have shown that nothing is more relevant or critical than waging and winning the battle against the pandemic.
Professional athletes the world over are doing their bit to help control this deadly virus and its catastrophic effects. South Africa’s golf professionals have joined in this effort and are part of the drive to get vaccinated against COVID-19. It is a pioneering initiative that will make its debut at this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Series on the Sunshine Tour.
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The Vodacom Origins of Golf Series has partnered with the Sunshine Tour and Clicks to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all the professionals and caddies competing in this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Sishen Golf Club.
Last week, all the professionals and caddies who did not make the cut in this 54-hole tournament will receive the first Pfizer vaccination injection. The remainder will be vaccinated during Saturday’s final round. Then the second vaccination injection will be administered at the Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Humewood in Port Elizabeth at the end of September.
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Wimpie du Plessis, the Sunshine Tour’s COVID-19 Chief Compliance Officer, says it’s absolutely essential that professional athletes get vaccinated.
“It is well documented that approximately 25-30% of individuals could experience ongoing symptoms for an extended period of time, known as “Long COVID”. A recent study indicated that up to 89% of patients would experience fatigue for three weeks after contracting the disease. Persistent symptoms similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the effect on the heart muscles means that we currently do not know how long a professional athlete who has contracted COVID-19 without being vaccinated must wait before they can safely start training again. We don’t have that scientific data at present. Professional athletes simply cannot put themselves in such a precarious position when it comes to their livelihoods.”
Du Plessis says she hopes the example set by the Sunshine Tour professionals will spur other South Africans who are still sceptical to also get vaccinated.
“Scientifically there is no proof to indicate that these vaccinations have any side effects that are unexpected. There is so much misinformation out there. What people are not understanding is that the base structure of these vaccines have been developed over decades. They are not new, like some people think.
“The only new element is their stimulation of the antibodies in the body specifically for COVID-19. But there is no difference between this process and what has been done with the flu vaccine for years now. The flu vaccine follows the same process of updating each year according to the new strains that emerge. But the base of the flu vaccine remains the same. Similarly, coronavirus is not new. It’s only this particular strain of it that is new.”