SA's adult population remains focus of COVID vaccine drive - Phaahla

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said that over 7,000 children between the ages 12 and 17 had received a shot since vaccinations were opened for them on Wednesday. He said that while the teenagers were encouraged to get their jabs, the adult population remained the priority.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla at a briefing on 30 September 2021. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Joe Phaahla said they had not set a target for teenagers they would like to see vaccinated against COVID-19 because adults still remained the priority.

Phaahla made the comments at the OR Tambo Health Centre in Diepsloot on Thursday where he was monitoring vaccinations.

Minister Phaahla said that over 7,000 children between the ages 12 and 17 had received a shot since vaccinations were opened for them on Wednesday. He said that while the teenagers were encouraged to get their jabs, the adult population remained the priority.

“We felt that now that we have enough capacity, we opened for minors between 12 to 17. Now, that does not deviate us from the main focus, which is the adult populations, more especially above 50 years,” said the minister.

Phaahla said that over 30% of the population had been inoculated, which was still far from the targeted 70% by December.

He said that about 60,000 12- to 17-year-old youngsters had registered to get the vaccine.

The minister also tried to clarify questions around consent, confirming that unaccompanied minors could get the COVID-19 vaccine but he said that parents were encouraged to accompany their children.

The Child Protection Act stipulates that youngsters between the ages of 12 and 17 do not need parental consent to get the jab.

However, Phaahla said that government preferred that parents be present when minors got their shots.

"It's in exceptional circumstances where for one reason or another, whether maybe the parents are reluctant, a child between 12 and 17 may be convinced that they need the vaccine, what the law protects in a circumstance like that, that child has the right to come into the vaccination site and be vaccinated."

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