Last week, Minister of Health Joe Phaahla announced that this age group will be eligible to get a Pfizer vaccine.
Parents have shown mixed reactions to the announcement and the fact that children do not need their consent to get the vaccine.
However, it is recommended that the minors be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The Department of Health intends to vaccinate more than 3 million children aged 12 to 17 by mid-January 2022.
Vaccination of children between the ages of 12 to 17: Prof. Mignon McCulloch:
The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine that was approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority for use in this age group.
These teenagers say they are ready to get the vaccine
“I am 14 years old and I want to vaccinate because I don’t want to die. I know that the COVID-19 can infect me, and I don’t want to die and I cannot wait to vaccinate.”
“I am currently 11 years old. I want to vaccinate when I turn 12 because I don’t want to die from coronavirus, my age group should get a vaccine. We are still young. We don’t want to die.”
The debate around parents’ consent has been fierce. According to the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, children older than 12 can get medical attention and treatment without a guardian’s consent.
Some parents have welcomed the fact that their children will be vaccinated.
“I have been impatient because our children have been going to school without any vaccine, mixing with different people, some who did not want to vaccinate. I don’t have a problem. I have a 14-year-old and I will be taking them to get a vaccine tomorrow after school.”
While others have reservations. This is what some parents and had to say
“I have a 17-year-old child and he doesn’t support the idea of getting a vaccine. I won’t even force him now that his age group is vaccinating. It’s his decision. I hope they won’t even force him if they take the vaccine to schools. I don’t want to hear my child saying he was forced to vaccinate because I will take action.”
COSAS welcomes the vaccination of more school-goers
The Congress of South African Students (COSAS) has welcomed the initiative, on the condition that consent will be sought from parents.
The Department of Health says it will work with the Department of Education to ease the process.
Spokesperson for the Department of Health in the North West Tebogo Lekgethwane explains, “The national has indicated that it needs to be adjusted to accommodate consent for the 12 to 17-year-olds. So the issue of consent is not a big issue, it’s not a problem. We also know that we have a responsibility to work with the Department of Education, who are going to link us with the schools. We have been working with the Department of Education, with the teacher program. So, the learners as well, it won’t be a problem.”
The Department of Health says matriculants will be prioritised as they are heading towards their final exam.