Health officials say there has been a notable increase in Covid-19 cases in children.

This data was presented in a Department of Health briefing on Friday, 03 December. The country is on the brink of a fourth wave of infections after the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Public Health Specialist at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD),  Dr Wassila Jassat presented this data. Jassat says that an emerging trend right now is the increase in hospitalisations of children under 5.

At the same time, it’s unlikely that children 5 years old and younger will receive the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa anytime soon.

Acting Director-General for the Department of Health, Dr. Nicholas Crisp said that there has been no application from pharmaceutical companies to administer a Covid-19 vaccine to children under 12-years-old. Teenagers in South Africa currently receive one injection of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine as approved by the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority.

Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla also announced that there had been a steep rise of cases in the last seven days with the country recording over 11 000 new cases on Thursday 02 December 2021

“It is much steeper than all the other curves we have seen in the last three waves,” said Phaahla. “We can manage this fourth wave. We can manage Omicron. We can in the next manage in a way where government doesn’t have to invoke serious restrictions in the next few days,” said the minister.

And, the majority of new cases on Thursday were recorded in Gauteng, which accounted for 72%, followed by the Western Cape with 6%. KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 5% of new infections; Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West 4% each; and the Free State and the Eastern Cape 2% each. The Northern Cape accounted for 1% of new cases.

At the same time, Gauteng had recorded 8 280 new cases on Thursday, the Western Cape 727 and KwaZulu-Natal 630.

 

The Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla has announced that from Wednesday 20 October, children between the ages of 12-17 years old will be able to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.

South Africa’s vaccination programme started in February with the Sisonke study which saw healthcare workers receive the Covid-19 vaccine first, then slowly other age groups were allowed to get their jab, culminating in any over 12 years old now being eligible for the jab.

There are a few useful things to remember:

  • There are 6 million children aged between 12 and 17 years old in South Africa
  • 12-17-year-olds will only receive one dose of the Pfizer vaccine
  • According to the Child Act, children 12 years and older are able to make health care decisions without the consent of their parents, guardian or caregiver.
  • Teenagers will be able to access public and private vaccination sites.
  • The Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) will be updated before 20 October to allow for teenagers to register for the Covid-19 vaccine and also report any possible side effects.
  • No one can be intimidated when it comes to choosing to be vaccinated, it is a voluntary health care programme – similarly, no one can be stopped from gaining access to health care.

Phaahla said that they have taken every precaution before authorising this cohort to get their jab. He made reference to international research which showed it was far safer for over 12’s to only receive one jab of the Pfizer vaccine. “We can assure parents and young people that even where [cases of myocarditis] have been noticed, there has been no permanent risk. We’re just taking precaution in this case,” said Joe Phaahla.

America, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Norway, China and India are already successfully vaccinated teenagers 12 years and older.

 

The Western Cape Department of Health says national Government is considering to, in future, also vaccinate children, aged 12 to 17, against Covid-19.

The province’s Head of Health, Dr Keith Cloete says the move would help curb the continued spread of the virus.

Cloete said the more South Africans that are vaccinated, the less severe the next wave of the pandemic would be.

He says they are also considering giving people over 50, with underlying health-conditions, and health workers a booster-dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

Access the Western Cape’s latest Covid-19 digicon here.

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