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ACDP in suit against Health Minister over vaccination of children aged between 12 and 17

The case follows Health Minister Joe Phaahla’s announcement last month that adolescents aged 12 to 17 could visit government and private vaccination sites without their parents’ consent. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

The case follows Health Minister Joe Phaahla’s announcement last month that adolescents aged 12 to 17 could visit government and private vaccination sites without their parents’ consent. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Nov 9, 2021

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Cape Town - Despite opposition and a court challenge expected at the Pretoria High Court this morning, the vaccination of children aged between 12 and 17 in the Western Cape has taken off, with the provincial health dashboard showing that two weeks into the campaign, 38 997 children have registered across the province.

Western Cape Health Department spokesperson Mark Van Der Heever reported that across the province about 34 083 in the cohort had received their jabs by Saturday, November 6.

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“Throughout the vaccine programme it has been the case that once a new age cohort opens, there is a sudden spike in interest, where large numbers want to vaccinate immediately.

“As seen across the country, once large numbers in an age band have been vaccinated, the numbers do drop a bit.

“We continue to encourage all eligible persons to take up vaccination as this offers the best protection against severe Covid-19 illness and death, especially in those over the age of 50 years,” said Van Der Heever.

The ACDP has gone to the high court in Pretoria to challenge the Department of Health and the SA Health Products Authority over the Covid-19 vaccination rollout for children.

The case follows Health Minister Joe Phaahla’s announcement last month that adolescents aged 12 to 17 could visit government and private vaccination sites without their parents’ consent.

The ACDP has joined forces with non-profit organisations Free The Children – Save The Nation, Caring Healthcare Workers, and the Coalition Covid Care Alliance.

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An affidavit by ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe states: “The ACDP has been inundated with pleas from its constituency to intervene on their behalf and defend their right to choose that they and their children not be forced to take into their bodies any substance, remedy, or medication they do not approve of, fear or do not know the true efficacy or safety of.”

Before the court case, ACDP NEC member Bongani Khanyile-Luthuli said: “Medical science agrees that children are effectively at no risk of serious illness or death when infected with the Covid-19 virus and that there is no need to vaccinate children against the Covid-19 virus for their own protection or safety.”

Khanyile-Luthuli added: “Vaccinating children by way of an unproven Emergency Use Authorisation vaccine and/or conducting trials on children to test the efficacy and/or effectiveness of the vaccine against Covid-19 in children can never be in the best interests of children.

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“There is mounting evidence that children who are vaccinated with the vaccine against Covid-19 suffer vaccine injuries and death, especially from myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart muscle).”

When the vaccinations for 12- to 17-year-olds opened, Western Cape head of health Dr Keith Cloete said children arriving at sites across the province came with parental consent to be vaccinated.

UCT Children’s Institute child rights expert Lucy Jamieson said: “The law tries to balance giving children autonomy and protecting them from burdensome decisions by requiring parents, caregivers or other adults to support them.

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“Even though adolescents can choose for themselves, it is important for parents and caregivers to listen to their children and discuss the risks and benefits.”

Wits University vaccinology expert Prof Shabir Madhi said: “I don’t believe vaccinating children with a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine is the most efficient use of the vaccines.

“In a country like South Africa, we’d be much better off offering a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to the 65% of adults above the age of 65 who have been vaccinated, and intensifying efforts at vaccinating the elderly and high risk groups who have not yet received even a single dose.

“We shouldn’t be using these vaccines to give children between 12 to 17 years a single dose,” said Madhi.

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Cape Argus

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