South Africa has become the first country in Africa to officially vaccinate children aged between 12 and 17 years old against Covid-19, Health Minister Joe Phaahla has said.The minister said the decision was in line with recommendations from the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines to offer all teenagers with the Pfizer vaccine for now.
There are about six million youngsters in the secondary school cohort and the health ministry aimed to reach at least half of the students before the schools closed, Phaahla said.
“We believe that this will come in handy as schools start their examinations, while some of the students were already advanced towards concluding the academic year and studying to prepare for the next academic year of 2022,” he said on Wednesday.
Due to preparations for final-year examinations, the ministry said there would be no special vaccination sites at schools for this age group for now, the minister said.
He has encouraged parents, caregivers and legal guardians to assist eligible young people to register and inoculate at their nearest public or private nearest vaccination sites.
While the law said children over the age of 12 could consent to their medical treatment, the ministry was recommending that parents should have an open discussion with the teenagers about the benefits of Covid-19 jabs, he added.
“Vaccination of young people from the age of 12 is a global phenomenon of which the parents should not be too concerned about,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, South Africa administered 201,666 new Covid-19 vaccines on Wednesday, taking the total to 11,190,003 recipients since the start of the national vaccination programme in February this year.