Pretoria - The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, will hear an application today by the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and other organisations to interdict the government from further administering Covid-19 vaccines to 12 to 17-year-olds.
Meanwhile, Section27, which has joined the proceedings, is questioning the motives behind the application.
The ACDP and organisations such as Free the Children – Save the Nation and the Covid Care Alliance will ask the court for an interim interdict against child vaccinations as they feel it is not in the best interests of children.
The applicants will ask for an interim order halting the vaccination programme for children, pending the outcome of an internal appeal before the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority to completely stop the programme.
The party said that, in effect, the decision of the regulator – granting authorisation for the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 17 – was contrary to the best interests of children.
But Section27, which has been admitted as a friend of the court, said it would stand by the government in this argument.
It is expected that many parents will gather outside court to voice their opposition to Covid-19 vaccinations for children. The parents were there in November when the ACDP issued its papers to the court, displaying banners such as “leave our kids alone”, while holding teddy bears.
They also showed posters with pictures of children delivering messages which include “We have natural immunity to Covid-19” and “We hardly ever get Covid-19. If we do, it’s mild”.
Section27, meanwhile, said in its court papers: “We are concerned that the ACDP and its partners are not genuinely acting on behalf of the best interests of children whom they claim to speak for, but are instead motivated by making the roll-out of vaccines to teenagers a divisive ‘wedge issue’ aimed at attracting a conservative constituency.”
It will be argued on behalf of the organisation that now that schools have reopened fully, it is crucial that the adolescent vaccination programme be permitted to continue so that pupils in overcrowded classrooms are protected from the worst effects of Covid-19.
“Together with other non-pharmaceutical interventions like ventilation and the wearing of masks, vaccines are crucial to keeping young people safe from Covid-19 outbreaks while at school, and any campaign to stop the roll-out of vaccines to children puts them – and their human rights – at risk,” the organisation said.
The ACDP will argue that children are being used as a shield to protect adult society when, in fact, adults should be protecting children.
Free the Children – Save the Nation earlier lodged an appeal in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act against the decision of the regulator to authorise the use of Pfizer vaccine for children. Yet, it said, in spite of the looming appeal, the department persisted with the roll-out of a comprehensive and fast-tracked plan to vaccinate the children of South Africa.
The department was given until October 21 last year to furnish the ACDP with a written undertaking that it would stop the vaccination of children pending the appeal, or else the party would head to court.
As the ACDP had received no response, it decided to take the matter to court.
The ACDP and Free the Children – Save the Nation will, among other things, argue that medical science agrees that children are effectively at no risk of serious illness or death when infected with Covid-19, and that there is no need to vaccinate children against this virus for their own protection or safety.
Their stance is that vaccinating children by way of an unproven Emergency Use Authorisation vaccine and/or conducting trials on children to test the efficacy and/or effectiveness of the vaccine against Sars-CoV-2 in children can never be in the best interests of children.
It will further be argued that there is mounting evidence that children who are vaccinated with the vaccine face various health risks.
“There is no scientific, reasonable or rational reason for children to be vaccinated against the Covid virus currently.
“Until the appeal against the decision to roll out the vaccine, which will focus on the medical evidence as to the relative benefits and risks of vaccination, has been completed and can prove otherwise, children have to be protected according to their constitutional and human rights,” the party said.
The vaccination roll-out for children aged between 12 and 17 started on October 20 last year, when they are given a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine. This followed its approval the previous month.