The government is still focused on giving Covid-19 vaccines to older and at-risk South Africans, but will look at opening vaccinations to younger age groups, says health minister Dr Joe Phaahla.
Addressing the media on Friday morning (8 October), Dr Phaahla referred to a September decision by the South African health regulator to approve Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children over the age of 12.
The health minister said that an official announcement will be made in the coming weeks on the issue, with the government still focused on the adult population, especially the 50-plus age group.
“What we are doing at the moment is just planning around that (decision). We do have plans that we will announce, but at the moment, we are following the risk-adjusted approach that we have been following since the beginning of the lockdown.
“We will be making announcements in the next few weeks or so, before the end of this month definitely (October), in terms of when we can move into the lower age groups below 18.”
On 12 September, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) approved Pfizer’s vaccine for use in children over the age of 12.
It follows a review of updated safety and efficacy information and does not translate into a procurement decision, it said at the time.
Regulators approved the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for local use in adults in March.
Phaahla said South Africa has now administered close to 19 million vaccine doses to adults, with around 9 million fully vaccinated. This means that the country is close to reaching half of its planned 70% immunity goal, he said.
On Thursday (7 October), South Africa reported a total of 18,735,127 vaccines administered, with 224,184 jabs over the last 24 hours.