The Department of Health has announced children aged 12 to 17 can receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting next week.
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla made the announcement during a media briefing on 15 October.
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The rollout follows a recommendation by the Vaccine Ministerial Advisory Committee (VMAC), supported by both the cabinet and health MECs.
“We believe this will come handy as schools start exams or are advanced towards concluding the academic year and prepare for the next year,” Phaahla said.
When can children receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Children in the 12-17 age category can receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting Wednesday, 20 October.
This will give the department time for preparation on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) and other logistics.
The age group will receive the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has approved the vaccine for the group.
The VMAC advised children only receive one dose of the vaccine for now.
This is while it assesses information of some cases that suggest there were short-lived cases of transient myocarditis after two doses.
“The timing of the second dose will be informed by further information on this rarely observed side effect which has no permanent risk,” Phaaahla explained.
Children with compromised immunity can receive an additional dose over the prescribed norms. However, they can only receive it under the strict referral of their medical doctor and under their supervision.
Meanwhile, Phaahla revealed the number of new COVID-19 infections has continued on a downward trend over the last seven days.
There was a 28% reduction and a 3.5% reduction in hospitalisations. The positivity rate seven-day average was 2.7% and reported deaths are down by 16%.
Over 13.8 million South Africans have received their first jab and the department has administered just under 20 million doses.
As of 14 October, South Africans have downloaded over 1.5 million certificates on the Vaccine Certificate System Portal since it launched.
“We acknowledge that many of you were frustrated when the system was not responsive,” Phaahla said.
“This was largely due to big numbers at peak demand times when the server could not cope.”
“The certificate development team at CSIR is monitoring the traffic and making appropriate adjustments.”
Featured image: Unsplash/CDC