CAPE TOWN - The Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be safe in adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years in North America and Europe, the National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD) noted, saying the side effects are similar in adolescents and adults.
South Africa recently extended Covid-19 vaccination to this age group, which had made up 14.7% of new Covid-19 cases reported.
As of mid-October, children aged 10-19 years made up 9.2% of all cases of Covid-19 reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
The NICD said adolescents will only be offered the Pfizer Cominarty vaccine.
“This is the only Sars-CoV-2 vaccine currently approved by the South African Health Products Authority for use in this age group (under Section 21 emergency use access). Adults can get the Pfizer or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“Secondly, adolescents will only receive a single dose of the vaccine, as opposed to the two doses administered to adults. The decision was cautionary as more safety information is accumulated for this age group.
“Countries including the US, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland have already vaccinated many millions of adolescents. Their experience will guide countries that follow suit.”
By yesterday the Western Cape had 1 672 active Covid-19 cases.
Nationally the cumulative number of Covid-199 cases identified in SA is 2 919 778 with 146 new cases reported.
The NICD said that in a clinical trial in the US, two doses of the Pfizer vaccine were shown to be 100% effective in reducing all new Covid-19 infections among children.
A single dose reduced all new infections by 75%.
“An increasing number of studies, mostly among health-care workers and their household contacts, are showing that there is a step-wise reduction in the risk of asymptomatic infection with the increasing number of Pfizer doses received.
“A study in England found a 40-50% reduction in the risk of asymptomatic infection among household contacts of health-care workers who received one vaccine dose. The risk of asymptomatic infection was 70-80% lower reduction among contacts of health workers who received two doses.”