SA opens up vaccination roll-out to children aged 12 to 17

Children eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be administered one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

On Friday, the Department of Health announced that children aged 12 to 17 years are next to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting from this week. “We are now ready to start vaccinations for this group of young people from the age of 12 to 17 years,” said Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, during a media briefing on the national vaccination rollout programme. “This service will start on the 20th of October to allow the necessary preparations on the electronic vaccination data system registration system and also other logistical preparations”, added Phaahla. Last month, SAHPRA approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in children aged 12 and older, as the continent experienced its worst hit since the start of the pandemic in terms of deaths and infections.

According to Phaahla, the ministerial advisory committee suggested that teenagers are administered only a single shot of Pfizer's normal two-shot regime for now due to concerns of rare cases of myocarditis, with a few cases reported globally after a second dose. "The timing of the second dose will be informed by further information on this rarely observed side-effect which has no permanent risk," said Phaahla. Adding, “We believe that it will still offer significant protection, and once more information comes, we can space the second dose for the young people” to assure parents and teenagers. The department believes that the rollout will be beneficial ahead of final year exams, “We believe this will come handy as schools start exams or are advancing towards concluding the academic year and preparing for the next year”.