The Department of Health said the rolling out of the second dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine to children got off to a good start on Thursday.
This is after the department opened the Electronic Vaccination Data system (EVDS) for the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for the 12 to 17 age group yesterday morning.
Addressing the media on Friday, department’s Deputy Director-General, Dr Nicholas Crisp, said this comes after the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) approved Pfizer to be used in vaccinating children aged 12 to 17 against COVID-19.
However, children used to get only one dose of the vaccine, while adults get two doses.
“The Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines (VMAC) felt that we had time to be a bit cautious about the way we implemented it because at that stage two months ago, we were seeing reports in the international space of myocarditis or inflammation of the heart, mostly in boys who were getting their second doses.”
However, according to Crisp, a large amount of data and reports studied by specialists in the committee has established that myocarditis after vaccination is much the same in the general population.
“So, there's no increase. However, what they did show us is that there's a massive increase in myocarditis or inflammation in young adolescents who get COVID infection. So, vaccinating and protecting adolescents against myocarditis is done by vaccinating them.”
The VMAC has since given the department the green light to proceed with administering second doses for the adolescents.
“This solves a lot of problems for those who were 17 when they started are now 18 and they wanted to get a second dose of vaccination as some are travelling abroad for studies and so forth.”
Crisp was pleased that the vaccination of adolescents under the age of 18 has picked up quite quickly.
“Towards the end of exams when adolescents were able to move around more and go to the vaccination sites, we've seen a very stark uptick in vaccination of children or adolescents in this age group.”
So far, the data shows that over 700 000 children have now received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“So, that programme [of administering the second dose] will now run across the population,” he said adding that those aged 12 and above will now receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine 42-days apart.
Source: South African Government News Agency