The South African Health Products Authority (SAHPRA), the country’s health regulator, has officially approved the Pfizer ‘Comirnaty’ COVID-19 vaccine for children and teenagers from 12 years of age.
South Africa has a large youth population group, with around 28% being under the age of 15.
According to Reuters, this decision from SAHPRA comes after a review of updated safety and efficacy information submitted earlier this year in March.
The approval comes after Sinovac Biotech Ltd. confirmed a vaccine trial for infants, children, and adolescents would take place in South Africa as part of a wider global study for the safety and efficacy of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) inoculation in minors.
In South Africa, the continent’s most developed country, the rollout of jabs has been slow, but steady. A ramping up of the effort has been taking place in recent months with the country’s government desperately trying to mitigate both a further loss of lives and a further collapse of the already-burdened economy.
The country has vaccinated just over 12% of its adult population of more than 60-million total individuals putting South Africa at forefront of Africa’s vaccine race. SA has also been one of the country’s most affected by COVID-19 on the continent.
Now, as the entire adult population has been opened to vaccines, the most pressing issue affecting the pace of South Africa’s inoculation campaign is vaccine hesitancy, according to some of the country’s health insurers.
In other countries around the world, Pfizer’s jab is already being used to vaccinate teenagers, with the company planning safety tests on even younger children. In the US, the Delta variant has caused a noteworthy amount of infections amongst younger people, fueling the call to vaccinate the younger parts of the population.