Government has extended its Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) vaccination programme to include children aged 12 to 17 years old. The Department of Health recently announced plans to vaccinate this age group.
Briefing the media in Pretoria recently, Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla said the latest development in the national vaccination rollout programme follows a recommendation received from the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19 Vaccines.
The recommendation was also supported by Health MECs and Cabinet.
However, according to the Minister, MAC has advised that a single dose of the Pfizer jab should be administered for now, as approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).
The MAC recommended the delay of administering the second dose due to concerns about rare cases of myocarditis – heart muscle inflammation, with a few cases reported across the globe after a second dose.
“The MAC has advised that while this is being monitored all over the world at this stage, there has been no indication that the first dose has any serious side effects. So for now, it will be just one dose while the studies are continuing,” he said.
“We believe that it will still offer significant protection, and once more information comes, we can space the second dose for the young people.”
In South Africa, adults receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
The Minister has assured parents and teenagers that even when these cases have been reported, they had no permanent risk.
“So we're just taking precaution in this case,” he stressed.
According to the Department of Health’s Acting Director-General, Dr Nicholas Crisp, there are about six million youngsters in the secondary school cohort.
Children will be vaccinated at all public and private vaccination sites. – SAnews.gov.za