South Africa will next Wednesday start vaccinating children aged between 12 and 17 years old as part of efforts to intensify the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced on Friday.The country has fully vaccinated at least 10.3 million adults using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the single-dose Pfizer vaccine, according to the ministry of health this week.
“We are now ready to start vaccinations for this group of young people from the age of 12 to 17 years using a single dose of Pfizer vaccine for now,” Phaahla said during a media briefing on the national vaccination rollout programme which kicked off in February this year.
The minister said cabinet approved the decision after he received a recommendation from the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19 vaccines this week.
“This recommendation was also supported by Provincial Health Ministers when we met them this week during our statutory National Health Council meeting on Tuesday,” he added.
“We believe that this will come in handy as schools start their examinations, while some of them already advanced towards concluding the academic year and studying to prepare for the next academic year of 2022,” Phaahla said.
According to the health ministry’s acting director-general Nicholas Crisp, there were six million youngsters in the secondary school cohort in the country.
“It would be good to get hold of at least half of those children before the school holidays,” Crisp said, adding that it was “our intention for children to be vaccinated from Wednesday next week.”
“That should give a few days for those that are writing [exams] to be vaccinated and have a couple of days to get over any mild side-effects that they may experience,” he said.