South Africa’s vaccination drive for children appears to be gaining some momentum with the Department of Health confirming that more than 35 000 jabs have been administered as of Friday evening, 22 October 2021. That figure is likely to have increased, as some parents may have opted to take advantage of the weekend and have their children vaccinated during that period. Close to 94 000 registrations for the vaccine on the department’s Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).
Criticism towards children’s vaccination rollout
Children between the ages of 12 and 17 started queueing up for the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday. The cohort is being administered one shot of the Pfizer vaccine, something which some health experts have taken issue with.
Wits University’s Professor Shabir Madhi says while vaccinating minors is a good decision, he has emphasised that the country’s elderly should have been prioritised, particularly because they are the most vulnerable. Madhi has also questioned why the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) chose to give the greenlight for only a single dose of the Pfizer to be administered to the cohort.
A bone of contention regarding the vaccination of children is the fact that they don’t need parental consent in order to line up for the jabs, something which the Health Department’s Dr Nicholas Crisp stressed is permitted by law.
“So, the children’s Act makes provisions for children from the age of 12 to 17 — in other words, not yet an adult to give their own consent for medical treatment and there are provisions, sub-clauses of the Children’s Act that explain which children can get consent for what. So, children do not need their parents’ consent generally for any medical treatment and there are specific guidelines for that but parents can give consent for their children to get vaccinated,” Crisp said.
As of Saturday evening, 23 October, over 21 million vaccine doses have been given and more than 11 million people in South Africa are now fully jabbed against COVID-19 – around 35% of the country’s adult population.