Health Dept expecting busier vaccine sites as parents bring kids for COVID jabs

At this stage, children will only be allowed to get one shot of the Pfizer vaccine but this could change once further research determines whether a second dose is safe for this cohort.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The Health Department said that it was expecting a significant number of parents and guardians to take their children to vaccine sites after school on Wednesday to get their Pfizer jabs.

It is the first day that 12- to 17-year-olds qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine and officials said that youngsters in this age group did not need the consent of their parents.

At this stage, children will only be allowed to get one shot of the Pfizer vaccine but this could change once further research determines whether a second dose is safe for this cohort.

ALSO READ: As COVID vaccine drive opens to teens, parents urged not to force jabs on kids

The department’s acting Director-General Nicholas Crisp: "We do know that we've been getting an increasing number of requests and demands from parents sent directly to us and our team because they want to travel and they want to write their exams and they want to do all various activities and some just concerned that they want their children vaccinated, so I'm sure that those parents that feel strongly about vaccinating their children are going to bring their children in as soon as possible."

VACCINE HESITANCY

"I don't think it is a really great idea giving young kids this vaccination because we don't even know what's in the vaccine. Some kids don't even have a strong immune system," said 12-year-old Boitumelo Modise. She's eligible to get her COVID-19 vaccine from Wednesday but she said that it was too risky and you would not find her near a vaccination site any time soon.

One mother of two teens said that her children were not hesitant to take their jabs and understood the importance of being inoculated.

"Both their grandparents and their dad had quite severe infections from COVID, so they've seen the impact that the disease can have and, thankfully, all our family members came through it just fine. It was quite severe."

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) has investigated a number of allegations of people who have died after receiving the COVID-19 jab confirming no deaths have been linked to the vaccine.

While some people may experience side effects, the authority said that the vaccines were safe to use.

Government is aiming to innoculate at least 30 million people or 70% of the population by the end of the year.

So far, over 20.8 million jabs have been administered but many people still need to go and get their second Pfizer shots.

Since our vaccine rollout started earlier this year, the country's daily COVID-19 casualties have been coming down significantly.

Over the past 24-hour cycle, 50 deaths were recorded along with 453 infections.

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