‘There is a need for children to be vaccinated’

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Head of Department of Microbiology at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Pretoria, Professor Maphoshane Nchabeleng says there is a need for children to be vaccinated.

She says it is critical to understand that adults are the source of the coronavirus for children. This comes after the launch of the Sinovac COVID-19 trial on children.

Two thousand South African children between the ages of six months and 17 years have been enrolled in the trial which involves 14 000 children in five countries.

Participants will receive two doses of the SINOVAC vaccine.

Professor Nchabeleng says there must be a focus on children because it’s not clear how emerging variants of the virus will behave.

Meanwhile, the South African Medical Research Council says it supports the enrolment of children in the study. The council’s president Professor Glenda Gray says the delay in the inclusion of children in vaccine trials involves the potential denial of the clinical benefit to the child, their family and their extended family.

Government’s vaccination roll-out programme campaign started slowly. This was due to onerous negotiations with pharmaceutical companies and the emergence of the Beta coronavirus variant, which scuppered plans to use AstraZeneca’s shot from February.

Mixed reactions over children taking part in Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine trial

South Africans have expressed mixed reactions over children taking part in the Sinovac COVID-19 trial.

On Friday, the first group of children took part in the trial at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Pretoria.

One person said: “In my opinion, the COVID-19 vaccine on children will give us a greater step towards herd immunity and that’s what we need to curb coronavirus. So if it’s going to help in the greater scheme of things, I agree with this option.”

Another commented: “This is ridiculous, we can’t use our children for vaccines where you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“This I am totally against, I can’t believe that Sinovac would want to come here and trial a vaccine on our children,” said another.

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Additional reporting by Reuters