Western Cape says it’s prepared for any possible court challenges over adolescents getting Covid-19 vaccine
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Cape Town - The Western Cape will deal with any possible court challenge brought against it for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 getting vaccinated against Covid-19 without parental consent, if such a case emerges.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla’s recent announcement that adolescents aged 12 to 17 can visit government and private vaccination sites without their parents’ consent has sparked at least one threat of court action.
Premier Alan Winde said so far the Province’s legal team had not received anything to do with such a case.
As to whether the Province would be ready for a case if one came, Winde said: “We have a legal team and should a case come we will have to look at it and decide accordingly. Thus far we have not heard anything, at least not that I am aware of.”
Winde was speaking at the provincial update on the health platform and vaccination programme.
Elsewhere, UCT Children’s Institute child rights expert Lucy Jamieson said: “The law tries to balance giving children autonomy and protecting them from burdensome decisions by requiring parents, caregivers or other adults to support them.
“Even though adolescents can choose for themselves, it is important for parents and caregivers to listen to their children and discuss the risks and benefits,” Jamieson said.
Nationally it is estimated that cohort will add another 6 million eligible people to the vaccination pool and as from Wednesday this week, members of the age group started visiting vaccination centres across the country for their jabs.
The Western Cape was no exception.
Head of Health Dr Keith Cloete said members of the cohort had started arriving at sites across the province “mainly with parental consent, to be vaccinated, signed by their parents who are bringing them.”
“The 12 to 17-year-olds system is open and people have registered on EVDS. By Wednesday, we had seen 10 589 registrations from this cohort.
“The age group makes up 667 000 of the Western Cape population and can access service at any vaccination site,” said Dr Cloete.
He said the age group is not a priority target group and the vaccination programme would not be school-based.
With regards to infections, the Western Cape is currently seeing an average of around 127 new diagnoses, 31 new admissions and six deaths each day.
Dr Cloete said that overall, there was a 28% week-on-week decrease in cases in the Metro with almost all areas showing a decrease in case numbers, with the exception being the Eastern districts. However, he said the absolute number of cases there remains very small.
Meanwhile, in a review of the impact of the third wave compared to previous waves, the provincial Health Department’s findings showed that over a 12-week period during the third wave, people aged 50 years and older accounted for 30% of cases, 60% of hospital admissions and 83% of deaths.