DURBAN - DESPITE concerns and apathy, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health Nomagugu Simelane says at least 15 000 children have been vaccinated for Covid-19.
Simelane said the provincial Health Department would have wanted more parents to bring their children but said timing might have affected uptake. The vaccine programme was opened to the 12- to 17-year-old cohort group for vaccination in late October.
“Schools are currently going through exams and parents are still working.
“We anticipate that after the exam season and during the festive season we will have more parents bringing their children forward.”
Speaking during the update on the Covid-19 pandemic, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said the government was pleased and relieved that the rate of new infections in the province remained relatively low, even though it had patterns of fluctuating.
“The number of confirmed Covid19 cases currently stands at 515 892. Sadly, 14 770 people have lost their lives due to the pandemic. In the latest 24-hour reporting period, we’ve had 64 new cases. Prior to that, on Saturday we had 48 new cases. On Friday, we had 63 new cases; and on Thursday, we had 41 new cases.
“We are still not happy with the rate of vaccinations in the province. Up to this point, 3.3 million people have been vaccinated. This leaves us with a total of 4.7 million people to vaccinate by the end of this year, which is no small job.
“While we are pleased that 955 048 people from the 60+ age group have been vaccinated, we are concerned by the relatively lower numbers within the 35-49 and 18-34 age groups; within these two age groups, we have recorded 463 466 vaccinations out of 731 030 people who are registered; and 568 816 vaccinations out of 651 584 people who are registered,” said Zikalala.
The provincial government said it would reserve November 12-14 for another Vooma Vaccination Weekend as an opportunity to get more people vaccinated.
Zikalala also had a stern warning regarding allegations of illegal Covid19 vaccine certificates.
“We have received a number of unconfirmed reports indicating that some people are selling vaccination certificates. Naturally, we find this extremely concerning as it defeats the very purpose behind the vaccination process.
“We therefore want to warn those individuals who are even thinking of engaging in this kind of behaviour, which is grossly irresponsible and also criminal, that such actions are unlawful and will be prosecuted.
“We urge anyone with evidence to contact law-enforcement authorities, as well as the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.
“We assure them that this information will be treated in the strictest confidence,” said Zikalala.
Dr Velile Ngidi, public health medical registrar and KZN provincial vaccination facilitator, said vaccine hesitancy which would have occurred with the older age groups had been anticipated for the younger groups as well.
Ngidi said the provincial government had deliberately kept the 12- to 17-year-olds vaccinations to Fridays for now to allow for recovery time from possible side effects from the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. She said parents who vaccinate their children should expect them to experience joint pain, fatigue, fever, muscle pain and redness in the area.
“We are content with the low numbers of vaccines for now because of school. That’s why we are keeping the vaccinations to only Fridays so that the youth can recover. Without causing alarm, we urge parents to monitor their children and if the symptoms exceed three days, please call 0800 029 999 or take your child to the nearest health facility so that they can be examined.
“We have also partnered with some youth activity organisers after the ‘pens down’ because we don’t want a repeat of a spike in infections among younger people like we did last year,” said Ngidi.