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South Africa’s Covid vaccination rollout

On Wednesday 20th of October 2021, the government, in its continued effort to drive South Africa’s Covid vaccination rollout plan the goal of which his to achieve herd immunity, opened vaccinations for individuals aged from 12 to 18. The website reported that more than 39,000 children registered for vaccination and nearly 7,000 were vaccinated on the first day of the rollout to teenagers. As part of the #teenlivesmatter vaccine initiative, government submits that teenagers have died from Covid-19 and that it is time for children to receive their protection from the virus. To this end, the government has engaged with schools across the country to assist with the roll-out and regulated children in this age group do not require the permission of their parents or guardians, to receive the vaccine. All the child need do is visit a covid vaccination centre or attend a school-supported drive, with their ID book, birth certificate or passport.

The vaccination of choice by the government, being the 2-phase Pfizer vaccination, which was approved for administration to children on August 11, meaning that children will be required to receive 2 shots to ensure full vaccination. Pfizer being the preferred vaccination for children of this age group and older in the US, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Poland, and more countries.

It is not yet confirmed whether the government or those acting on behalf of the #teenlivesmatter rollout have advised the school-goers or their parents and guardians of their rights, prior to vaccinating a child. Children of this age are particular are vulnerable to peer pressure as well as pressure from the institutions which have been established to provide safety for young children and teenagers. In situations where an individual is being requested to partake in the Covid-19 vaccination outside of their private life, should be made aware of their rights in terms of the vaccination, in terms of their right to choose, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, right to bodily and psychological integrity and the right to privacy. The Government Directive provided to businesses regarding Mandatory vaccination policies in the workplace, also allows for employees to apply for exemption from any mandatory vaccination policy based on medical reasons.

It has been said that the side effects of the vaccine are similar in younger people as it is for adults, this deduced from studies performed by Pfizer themselves in various studies across the globe. Side effects include pain from the injection itself, resulting swelling, fatigue and headaches. In addition to these common side effect, are reports of a rare side effect found to occur mostly in boys and men such as pain in the chest, shortness of breath or an irregular heartbeat and myocarditis in younger individuals, especially males. Infection from a virus is usually the cause of Myocarditis which is an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium). The resultant inflammation can reduce your heart’s ability to pump, causing rapid or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).

Parents of children attending school which are participating in the vaccination roll-out and who are most vulnerable groups, which are mainly those aged 60 years and older, remained a priority for the vaccination roll-out.