PODCAST | The Story: Vaccination of teens underway - what you need to know

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Vaccinations of children between the ages of 12 and 17 started on Wednesday this week.
Vaccinations of children between the ages of 12 and 17 started on Wednesday this week.
  • On Wednesday this week, children between the ages of 12 and 17 were able to get Covid-19 vaccinations.
  • They do not need parental consent to get the jab.
  • SA's health regulator approved just one dose for children in a bid to mitigate any potential risks associated with a second dose. 

The government hopes to reach a target of vaccinating 70% of the adult population by December, as South Africa continues to grapple with the third wave of the pandemic.

Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are now eligible to receive vaccinations, and do not need parental consent. This cohort consists of about 6.2 million people.

On this week's episode of The Story, we speak to investigative journalist Kyle Cowan, who has covered the pandemic extensively.

Cowan says South Africa is recording about 560 new Covid-19 cases a day, "which is very good news as we are approaching levels we last saw right at the beginning of the local pandemic in March/April of 2020".

He believes it is unlikely the government will reach its 70% target of adult vaccinations by December, and it is more likely that will only happen in January or February. 

Later in the show, we speak to a family physician, Dr Sheri Fanaroff, about the benefits of vaccinating teenagers, as well as the risks parents are concerned about.

Fanaroff says parents are understandably concerned, but that paediatric associations around the world have studied the data and endorsed vaccines for children.

"It also reduces the risk of long Covid" - which, she says, family doctors are seeing in some teenagers. 

Fanaroff says teenagers are not at risk of severe Covid, but there is a collective benefit that contributes to community protection.

She also says the risk of teenagers getting myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, is very small - with only "65 per million cases" after the second dose. 

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