South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla has announced that children and teens between 12 and 17 will now be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The announcement came during a media briefing Friday morning, where Phaahla confirmed that the decision was influenced by recommendations made by the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on vaccinations during a meeting held on Tuesday.
Minister of Health has announced that govt is ready to vaccinate children from 12 yrs to 17 yrs. The vaccination fir this cohort will be opened on 20 October. The vaccine MAC recommended that children should be give 1 dose of Pfizer vaccine #VaccineRollOutSA
— Department of Health (@HealthZA) October 15, 2021
Here are 4 things you should know about SA rolling out vaccinations to under 18s:
- Teens aged 12 to 17 will be able to receive vaccines from 20 October 2021.
Health Minister Phaahla has announced that vaccines will be made available to people from the age of 12. As always the government has reiterated that vaccines are a choice.
Phaahla says that the rollout will officially begin on 20 October as the health department makes further preparations for the country’s Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).
- Only the Pfizer vaccine is being made available to teens and they will only receive 1 dose.
Currently, people under 18 can be vaccinated with the Pfizer “comirnaty” vaccine with Phaahla adding that under 18s will only be given 1 dose of the vaccine. Assessments are still being made as to when a second dose could be distributed.
He said that this decision is due to isolated internationally reported cases where heart inflammation has been reported in younger children. The minister says that this is simply a precautionary measure and that there are no overt risks to vaccinating under 18s.
- Teens make up 11% of South Africa’s population
According to Mia Malan, editor-in-chief of SA’s Bhekisisa Health Journalism Centre, teens aged 12 to 17 make up 11% of SA’s total population at 6.5-million.
Vaccinating this population group could boost the overall vaccination numbers heading towards the target of vaccinating around 67% of the population by mid-December.
- SA’s vaccines rollout will not come to schools to vaccinate teens.
Malan reports that the Department of Health has confirmed that teens will not be vaccinated at schools, such as during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 and 2010.
People under the age of 18 will still need to go to registered Health Department vaccination sites and follow the same process as people older than 18.
However, the Heath Department says it will look at school programmes for next year.