When will 5 to 11-year-olds be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa?

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
How long would it take, and what should parents know about the vaccine and their little ones? Photo: Unsplash/Hakan Nural
How long would it take, and what should parents know about the vaccine and their little ones? Photo: Unsplash/Hakan Nural
  • Children as young as 12 are now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa. 
  • With a vaccine for five to 11-year-olds on the horizon in the US, when can local parents expect a vaccine for their younger children? 
  • A local expert says it may be "sometime in the first half of 2022". 

With children between the ages of 12 and 17 now given the green light for receiving the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa, it seems that it might not be too long before under 12s become eligible.

But how long would it take, and what should parents know about the vaccine and their little ones?

Parent24 spoke to Discovery Health's chief commercial officer, Dr Ronald Whelan, who also heads up Discovery's Covid-19 task team, about the potential timelines and the process of getting a vaccine approved for younger children locally. 

Also read: What are parents saying about the Covid-19 vaccination for children?

A realistic time frame 

Dr Whelan says much depends on what unfolds after the upcoming meeting between pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the US's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is set to take place on 26 October.

This comes after Pfizer shared its vaccine trial data on children between the ages of five and 11 with the regulatory agency and sought emergency use approval of their vaccine.

"Expectations are therefore that the vaccine will be approved for children aged five to 11 years in the US sometime in November. However, given the dosage for children will likely need to be significantly smaller than the dose currently used for adults, there will then still need to be work done to change the number of doses," Whelan says.

"Realistically," Dr Whelan says, the vaccine may only be "available to children aged five to 11 years in the US toward the end of the year".

Estimating the time frame the vaccine would be available to this age group locally, Dr Whelan told Parent24 that five to 11-year-olds may receive the vaccine by June 2022 pending approval from the South African Health Products Authority (SAHPRA).

"While SAHPRA collaborates with colleagues, the US FDA and other regulators globally on vaccine approvals, it also conducts its own extensive investigation and analysis regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. It's therefore likely that the vaccine will only be approved for use in children aged five to 11 years in South Africa sometime in the first half of 2022."

OPINION | I won't ask you to get vaccinated, but as numbers become names consider this

Are vaccine trials more complicated when it comes to younger children?

"Vaccine trials typically progress from adults to adolescents aged 12 to 18 years and then to children aged five to 11 years. In general, if the outcomes of the trials have been favourable in adults, the outcomes tend to be favourable in children too," Dr Whelan explains.

"The trials in adolescents are, however, very important in that they investigate the potential impact and potential side effects of the vaccines in these younger age groups. They also guide on dosages required for children compared to adults."

Will you, as a parent, be taking your child for the Covid-19 vaccination once it's available in South Africa?

Chatback:

Share your stories and questions with us via email at chatback@parent24.com

Don't miss a story!

For a weekly wrap of our latest parenting news and advice sign up to our free Parent24 newsletter. Also, just for subscribers, we have an education themed newsletter: sign up for Bright Spark here

Follow us, and chat, on Facebook and Twitter.

Get a head start on Matric exam prep

News24 subscribers now have access to our exclusive matric finals study buddy resource. 

Sign up to our Matric Prep 2021 newsletter here

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24