South Africa has started giving COVID-19 vaccinations to adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years, with a goal of vaccinating at least 6 million people within this age group.
The country intends to increase its rate of vaccinations which is running behind the target of 300,000 daily shots. Currently, South Africa is administering about 185,000 doses per day.
By this, South Africa will be joining the likes of France, Canada, Germany and America who all began offering COVID-19 vaccines to teens and even younger children months ago.
As at 16 00 Wednesday October 20, which was the first day of the vaccination for the adolescents, a total of 38,800 people in South Africa had been vaccinated. The National Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale confirmed this.
According to research, adolescents are less likely to suffer severe effects of the coronavirus, many health officials say it's important to vaccinate them to keep schools open and to prevent them from becoming a reservoir for the virus as the adult populations are immunized.
South Africa will be giving just one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the young age group, according to recommendations from the committee which advises the government on its COVID-19 strategy.
While children over 12 years of age may consent to their own medical treatment, the government has advised parents and guardians to accompany the children to vaccination sites.
The Department of Health has advised. “… parents have open discussions with children about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccines to make an informed health choice, and possibly accompany them when they present themselves at vaccination sites,"
12-year-old Safwaan Sharief, who was accompanied by his parents to receive the vaccine said "I'm here to get vaccinated it and I feel okay."
Mother of a 12 year old, Naseera Limalia, explained her family could not trade the vaccination for anything considering, recounting her family's loss through covid 19.
"We came out today for my eldest daughter, 12-year-old vaccine. Our biggest encouragement for it was that we lost many family members. I've lost a husband, she's lost a father. People need to get it (the vaccine)."
Her daughter, Amani Limalia, who had just received her vaccination expressed joy for taking the vaccine.
"I feel, I feel good because it won't really prevent me from getting COVID but at least if I get it the symptoms won't be as bad."
With over 2.9 million infections and over 88,000 deaths reported, South Africa has recorded the highest number of cases across the continent.