Health minister Joe Phaahla says that government will review its policy of offering Covid-19 vaccines to children in South Africa towards the end of October.
Addressing media on Friday (17 September), Phaahla said that the government is still focused on vaccinating adults, with the main priority being people over the age of 50 ahead of a potential fourth wave at the end of the year.
However, Phaahla acknowledged a decision by the South African health regulator to approve Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for use for children over the age of 12.
Depending on the number of adults that have been vaccinated at the end of October, the government will then look at reviewing its policy of vaccinating people under the age of 18, he said.
“Even though we know the Pfizer vaccine has been approved (for children), we want to remain focused on the high-risk people as of now.
“If we can reach 70% of the of the 50+ age group when the next wave comes, our hospitals will not be as overwhelmed as they have been.”
Phaahla said that the government is aware of pressure from schools to have children vaccinated. Other factors that will be considered are the local government elections on 1 November, which could be a super-spreader event, and an excess vaccine supply that will allow the under 18 age group to be targeted.
“We think it will be very risky to be all over and start just vaccinating people everywhere. Let’s manage the schools, and keep on pushing the elderly to get vaccinated.”
On Thursday (16 September), South Africa reported 4,215 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,873,415.
Deaths have reached 85,779 (+311), while recoveries have climbed to 2,706,293, leaving the country with a balance of 81,343 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 15,683,797 (+236,763).