Why elderly are prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine despite reduced demand

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Jul 1, 2021

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THERE are growing calls for the registration for Covid-19 vaccines to be opened to everyone above the age of 18, as the demand for vaccination among the elderly has reduced exponentially.

Six weeks into the vaccine rollout to those older than 60, less than half of this age group has been vaccinated. This has led the health department to open up the vaccinations to those older than 50, in the hope that they will bring their parents with them when they get vaccinated.

The department of health says the rationale behind the selection of the age groups for vaccinations is based on the case fatality ratio from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Briefing Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Wednesday night, deputy director-general of health Dr Anban Pillay said that NICD’s database on mortality from the period March 5, 2020, to June 5, 2021, showed as age increased, the case of fatality also increased significantly.

“So if you look at the age group above the age of 60 you can see that they are sitting with a case fatality ratio above 30%, and in 80 and above 50%.Our rationale behind the selection of the age groups for vaccinations is that the likelihood for those who are young is far lower than a person who is 80 years,” said Pillay.

“The objective with vaccination at this stage is to protect the high risk individuals from being infected, and having severe effects of the virus which could lead to hospitalisation as well as mortality. Whether you have comorbidities if you're young, the risks are much lower than the older age groups.”

Registrations for those aged 50 and above, opened on July1 and vaccinations were expected to begin from July 15. Previously only healthcare workers and people over the age of 60 were allowed to register for vaccinations. Last week, the government began its plan to vaccinate nearly half a million education staff.

Health department spokesperson Popo Maja urged families, friends, and neighbours, to also register their loved ones aged 60 years and above, who are yet to vaccinate or register.

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