Saturday, 22 January, 2022
HomeMedico-LegalPhaahla’s move on jabs for 12-year-olds without parental consent ruffles feathers

Phaahla’s move on jabs for 12-year-olds without parental consent ruffles feathers

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla’s announcement that children 12 and older are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination without their parents, guardians and caretakers’ consent has ruffled feathers, writes MedicalBrief.

IOL reports that Phaahle told a media briefing this was after advice from the Ministerial Advisory Committee that those in the 12-17 age group should only be given a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine. It was a precautionary measure as there had been a few cases of myocarditis – the inflammation of the heart muscle – in teenage boys.

“At this stage there’s been no indication that the first dose has any serious side effects so for now it will be just one, but we believe it will still offer significant protection and once more information comes we will offer the second dose. The timing of the second dose will be informed by further information,” the health minister said.

The department’s acting director-general, Dr Nicholas Crisp, said vaccinations would not take place at schools, and that children in this cohort did not need their parents’ consent, according to provisions in the Children’s Act.

The Star reports that section 129 of the Children’s Act also states that parents, guardians and caregivers may consent to the medical treatment of the child if the child is 12 or older, but is of insufficient maturity or is unable to understand the benefits, risks and social implications of the treatment.

However, parents have weighed in on the issue, with many disagreeing with the Children’s Act.

“It's ridiculous,” said one parent when he heard the news. “Kids need our permission for everything else, so why not to get vaccinated? I am offended that government can simply say to children to go get vaccinated. I will not allow this.”

Another parent said there isn't enough research to show that the vaccines are safe for children. “We don't even know if it is safe for adults. My kids are vaccinated for other diseases, anyway. That is my choice,” he said.

Others, reports IOL, welcomed the news with mixed feelings. “It’s a very important step that the government has taken and we applaud them,” said Lynne Cawood, director of Childline’s Gauteng branch. She said youngsters probably “don’t need the vaccine as much as the older people do, but it will ensure their parents are not exposed to COVID-19 and they will live longer.” She pointed out that South Africans can’t afford another generation of millions of orphans, as was seen during the HIV/Aids pandemic.

However, Cawood believed it was important that children received the consent of their parents first before taking the vaccine.

The Johannesburg Child Advocacy Forum (JCAF) said it had received numerous questions regarding the rollout of vaccines for children.

“I work with a number of undocumented children, so how will they get vaccinated? And those in care? Those living on the streets?” said Annelie du Plessis, a spokesperson for the JCAF. “How will information about this be disseminated/presented/accessed? What about those not wanting to get vaccinated? Will schools require this (along with your clinic card) to enrol you?”

On vaccine sites for the children, Crisp said: “For this period of the national vaccination programme, children can be vaccinated at all public and private vaccination sites just like everyone else.”


IOL article – Mixed feelings over youngsters not needing parents’ permission to get Covid-19 vaccine (Open access)


Saturday Star Pressreader article – Kids’ right to decide on jab no child’s play (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


COVID-19 in children: The South African experience and way forward


COVID-19 in children: No room for complacency


FDA authorises Pfizer vaccine for adolescents



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