South African children in the 12 – 17 age group will be able to receive a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from Wednesday, October 20.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla made the announcement during a media briefing on Friday following advice from the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC).
“This service will start on October 20. We believe that this will come handy as the schools start their examinations and will be completing the academic year,” he said.
The MAC advised that the 12-17 age group should only be given one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Phaahla said administering only one dose of the Pfizer vaccine is precautionary as there were a few cases of myocarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle — in teenage boys.
“At this stage there’s been no indication that the first dose has any serious side effects so for now it will be just one, but we believe it will still offer significant protection and once more information comes we will offer the second dose. The timing of the second dose will be informed by further information,” he said.
The department’s acting director-general Dr Nicholas Crisp said vaccinations for this new age cohort would not be taking place at schools.
“For this period of the national vaccination programme children can be vaccinated at all public and private vaccination sites just like everyone else,” he said.
Phaahla added that the MAC advised that additional doses should be given to those with compromised immunity.
Individuals in this group include those on long-term therapy, those with autoimmune conditions and also those who are on treatment for haematological disorders.
“This should happen strictly under a referral by a medical practitioner,” he said.