Health Minister Joe Phaahla has announced that as of 2023 all children aged between five and 11 who are at risk of contracting severe COVID-19 will be able to receive the vaccine.
According to the Health Minister, these children will be offered two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with an interval of 21 days between the two doses.
This will include children with chronic respiratory, heart, neurological, kidney, liver and gastrointestinal conditions as well as those with certain endocrine disorders, conditions associated with immunosuppression and serious genetic abnormalities.
The Minister was briefing the media in Ekurhuleni on Thursday.
Phaahla also announced that South Africa has crossed the 38 million mark for administered COVID-19 vaccines since the rollout of the programme began.
“Although the number of COVID-19 cases remains very low around the country, sub-variants of Omicron continue to be detected at low levels across the country,” he said.
He raised his concern about the continued number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded every week.
According to the Minister, the COVID-19 vaccination is now integrated into the primary healthcare services as government has closed the majority of the special vaccination sites.
He told the media that the target remains to reach 70% of the adult population with a particular focus on reaching the elderly and vulnerable groups.
“The department has been receiving enquiries on whether additional COVID-19 vaccine booster doses will be made available to provide ongoing protection against the pandemic, especially for older persons and those who are immunocompromised because they are at the highest risk of severe COVID-19 complications,” the Minister said.
He explained that adults between the ages of 18 and 49 years are eligible to receive three doses, while those 50 years and older are eligible to receive four doses.
“Consideration is being given to an additional booster dose to be offered to both age groups.”
This means adults aged between 18 and 49 years will be eligible to receive a total of four doses, while those 50 years and older will be eligible to receive five doses.
“There is little experience of ideal booster intervals and there is a high level of immunity in the community. At this stage, the intention is to provide another booster at an interval between the previous and the additional booster dose of a minimum of 180 days or six months,” he said.
“Although, this next booster will be a voluntary dose and not part of a wide community campaign. But the department reminds South Africans that the lifting of restrictions didn’t imply that the pandemic is over.” – SAnews.gov.za