THE registration and the vaccination of children aged 12 and older is officially open from today, the Department of Health said.
This comes after the Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, announced that all teenagers would be eligible to receive one dose of the Pfizer vaccine for now.
The decision is in line with the recommendations from the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Vaccines.
“We believe that this will come in handy as schools start their examinations, while some of them already advanced towards concluding the academic year and studying to prepare for the next academic year of 2022,” Phaahla said last Friday.
There are about six million youngsters in the secondary school cohort and the department aims to reach at least half before the schools close.
Due to preparations for final year examinations, the department said there will be no special vaccination sites at schools for this age group for now.
The department has encouraged parents, caregivers and legal guardians to assist eligible young people to register and inoculate at their public or private nearest vaccination site.
While the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 provides that children over the age of 12 can consent to their medical treatment, the department is recommending that parents have an open discussion with teenagers about the benefits of COVID-19.
The department believes that this will help adolescents to make an informed health choice and possibly accompany them when they present themselves at vaccination sites.
“Vaccination of young people from the age of 12 is a global phenomenon of which the parents should not be too concerned about.”
All eligible children are reminded to bring along South African ID cards, birth certificates with a registration number, foreign passport or any verifiable asylum or refugee proof of identity bearing the name of the child for purposes of registering on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).
“Meanwhile, women and young girls aged 12 and older should be encouraged to vaccinate during any stage of their pregnancy and breastfeeding.”
In addition, the department recommended that healthcare workers share with vaccinees about the benefits and possible risks of COVID-19 vaccination with their clients.