No vaccine for children under 18 available in SA yet, but studies are being conducted
The national department of health on Friday said local Covid-19 vaccines are not registered for use in children, but studies are being conducted to make them available to the younger population.
“There are studies being done by the manufacturers and vaccines are being evaluated by the vaccine ministerial advisory committee (VMAC) and the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra),” said the departments’ deputy director-general Dr Nicholas Crisp.
“When the evidence is clear and we understand the implications, I am sure the vaccine registration age will change, and at that point we will vaccinate children below the age of 18. The evidence being looked at is the category of 12 to 18.”
Providing an update on vaccine registration during a weekly health media briefing, Crisp said the Sputnik vaccine was not yet registered.
“We are not looking at it from the health department’s perspective yet. There are two vaccines that are registered, namely AstraZeneca and Sinovac.
“There are conditions under the registration of the Sinovac vaccine that need to be met for the vaccine to be used. We are looking at those conditions from an implementation perspective, which includes that further studies need to be done to answer questions to which there is insufficient evidence.
“Sahpra said there is no good reason why the vaccine can’t be used, but there is not enough evidence to say we understand how it will behave, for instance with the Delta variant and people with HIV.”
Crisp said the work is being planned with the department of science and innovation and the SA Medical Research Council and will form part of an initial introduction of Sinovac vaccines when the time is right.
On the special vaccination for travel, Crisp said that programme will be in place until September 1 and thereafter anybody can register to get vaccinated.
“For the next two weeks we are processing applications for people under the age of 35 who wish to travel, ensuring they can get vaccinated as quickly as we can get through them.”
He again encouraged citizens above the age of 35 to register and get vaccinated.
Deputy health minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo encouraged men to get vaccinated.
“In most societies we have learnt citizens who are health-seeking are women. They visit health facilities to check that everything is OK. Men do not do that. We are pleading with men to find time to visit vaccination sites because we need to get to herd immunity,” he said.