South Africaâ€™s golf professionals are joining the drive to get vaccinated against COVID-19 with a pioneering initiative that will make its debut at this weekâ€™s Vodacom Origins of Golf series on the Sunshine Tour.
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 weekâ€™s Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Sishen Golf Club.
On Friday, 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 Saturdayâ€™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.
Wimpie du Plessis, the Sunshine Tourâ€™s COVID-19 Chief Compliance Officer, says itâ€™s absolutely essential that professional athletes get vaccinated.
â€œIt is well documented that approximately 25-30% of individuals could experience ongoing symptoms for an extended period of time, known as â€œLong COVIDâ€. 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 donâ€™t have that scientific data at present. Professional athletes simply cannot put themselves in such a precarious position when it comes to their livelihoods.â€
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.
â€œScientifically 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.
â€œThe 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. Itâ€™s only this particular strain of it that is new.â€ – Michael Vlismas
Photo Credit: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour