The National Department of Health says it will not roll out COVID-19 vaccinations at schools, for now, to avoid disruption to critical schooling. Although children between the ages of 12 and 17 can now get their Pfizer vaccine at their nearest vaccination site, not many of this age group visited vaccination sites in Mahikeng in the North West as yet.
Spokesperson for the Minister of Health Foster Mohale has urged the youth to go and vaccinate.
“We have agreed with the Department of Basic Education that we don’t want to disrupt the important preparation for the examination. We are not going to set up any special vaccination sites at schools during this time. So we are saying all from the age of 12 up to 17 can register and go to the nearest vaccination site where they will be assisted with registration and vaccinations. We will be controlled by the demand because most of them will be coming to the vaccination sites in the afternoon, after school hours, and over the weekend.”
Law around vaccination of 12 to 17-year-olds
The Health Department is adamant that its decision to vaccinate children aged between 12 and 17 is within the law, saying it’s concerned that members of the public are blowing their fears out of proportion.
According to the Children’s Act, those who are older than 12 can get medical attention and treatment without the consent of a guardian.
Government has extended its vaccine roll-out programme to children in this group with effect from Wednesday.
But the issue of consent has stimulated fierce public debate.
South Africa intends to vaccinate more than 3 million children aged 12 to 17 by mid-January 2022.
Children react to vaccination
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.”
Fourth wave of COVID-19 infections
While the COVID-19 third wave has come and gone, a possible fourth wave still looms and the death toll thus far is still being debated.
The official number of people who succumbed to COVID-19 related complications is 88 000 according to the Health Department.
But when so-called excess deaths are considered, many scientists believe the figure is possibly three times higher at nearly 265 000 deaths.
Excess death is the number of deaths over and above the deaths that are expected based on historical data.
Professor Salim Abdool Karim shares more on the fourth wave and 12-17-year-olds being vaccinated: