South Africa approved Pfizer’s vaccine for use for children over the age of 12, a boost to the country’s immunisation program.
The move follows a review of updated safety and efficacy information and doesn’t translate into a procurement decision, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority said Sunday (12 September).
Regulators approved the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for local use in adults in March.
Africa’s most developed country has been the hardest hit by the pandemic, reporting the highest number of infections. Around 12% of the nation has been fully vaccinated, with the country of about 60 million people now bracing for a fourth wave of infections to hit in early December.
The approval comes after Sinovac Biotech said a Covid-19 vaccine trial in infants, children and adolescents would take place in South Africa as part of a global study.
Government is now set to introduce a digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate will confirm that a person has been vaccinated in South Africa, said health minister Dr Joe Phaahla.
Addressing media on Friday (10 September), Phaahla said that the certificate would be available through a person’s smartphone, which can then also be printed out.
Phaahla said that the certificate has been developed with fraud and other security protections and will align with international standards.
“This initiative is in line with the World Health Organisation initiated vaccination certificate. Through this, the WHO attempting to standardise vaccination proof all over the world,” he said.
The minister said this certificate should be available to the vaccinated in ‘just over a week’.
Phaahla clarified that the documentation would be made available for those recently vaccinated and those vaccinated several months ago – as long as a person’s personal information is reflected in the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) system.
The health minister said that the certificate would likely be used for certain services in the future. but the government has no intention to make the certificate a requirement for accessing public services.
Instead, Phaahla said that the document would be used to gain entry to entertainment and sporting events and possibly some businesses.
With further reporting by Bloomberg.