Last week, Covid-19 vaccines were authorised for use in individuals younger than 18 years old by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra). Despite this, the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla says the focus remains on vaccinating adults in South Africa.
To date, more than 15.7 million doses of the potential life saving Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in South Africa. Around 7.73 million people are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Dr Phaahla said that if South Africa vaccinated more than 70% of people above the age of 50, then hospitals won’t be overwhelmed during a fourth wave of infections. He says that just 30% of people above 50 years old have been vaccinated in the county.
The health minister also addressed the shift in the age of people being infected with Covid-19. He explained that the reopening of schools and the emergence of the delta variant, has seen an increase in younger people being infected.
He added, “I am hoping that at the least by the end of October, we could be close to 50%. When we reach that, we might be in a better position to say can we now consider the children below 18,”. The minister says that a decision around vaccinating youth will be considered after the local government elections.
Phaahla also addressed concerns around the election and large political gatherings.
“By the time we are done with elections, we will see whether there has been a super spreader event or not. By that time, we would have covered a lot [of people]… and our stock of the vaccine would be improved. We will keep on reviewing [that decision],” concluded the health minister.