Parents react to Health Ministry’s decision to start vaccinating children over 12 without parental consent

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Some parents and children have reacted with concern to the Health Minister’s announcement that children between the ages of 12 and 17 will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination without parental consent.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced on Friday morning that the decision was made following a recommendation from the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on vaccinations.

South Africa will start vaccinating this age group from Wednesday next week with a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The government’s announcement follows the approval of the use of the Pfizer vaccine on children over the age of 12 by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) last month. And while there have been some cases of heart inflammation recorded in adolescents after a second dose globally, the South African government has assured parents and children that this poses no permanent risks.

For now, only a single dose will be administered until more information on the safety of a double dose becomes available.

The debate surrounding the safety of vaccines has been controversial. And although these parents aren’t against vaccines, they are unhappy about the government’s decision to allow children to be vaccinated without parental consent.

“Children of 14, 15 are too young. They don’t know what’s going on. It’s not right, they are still underage, so they still need to get permission. Even if the parents don’t allow that, just to let them know. They need the parents’ concern because they are still young, they don’t understand.”

These children who’ll be eligible for vaccination from the 20th, are skeptical.

“I am scared because people die after vaccinating, so sometimes it is a bit scary.”

“I don’t want it, I don’t know how to describe it but I won’t take it.”


Acting Deputy General in the Health Department, Dr Nicholas Crisp, says the children’s Act makes provision for children to get vaccinated without parental consent.

“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.”

But family law attorney Shando Theron says while some medical procedures such as termination of pregnancy do not require parental consent, he’s warning against potential risks the government could face with this decision.

“What people are saying is let’s say my child goes against my wishes and go and get the vaccination and then there are medical complications. Will the government foot the bill? There’re a lot of questions that need to be answered but I can certainly understand the government’s reasoning of why they want to do this. But legally, my professional opinion is there is no law that gives the authority to do this, not yet at least.”

The South African Paediatric Association (SAPA) which welcomed the approval of Pfizer for children has also stressed that parents have nothing to be concerned about when it comes to the safety of the vaccine.

In the video below, Dr Phaahla gives further details: