CHILDREN aged 12 years and older are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, as the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) has decided to expand vaccination eligibility to children and adolescents aged 12-17 years.
Vaccination reduces the risk of severe illness, hospitalisation and deaths due to COVID-19. The World Health Organisation (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has recommended that Pfizer/BionTech COVID-19 vaccine is suitable for use by persons aged 12 years and above. The same vaccine has been granted Emergency Use Authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in children and adolescents aged 5-15 years and full approval for use in people aged 16 years and older.
Thus subsequently, Namibia has welcomed this scientific breakthrough. MoHSS Executive Director (ED), Ben Nangombe, says the ministry has commenced with the administration of the Pfizer-BioNTecli COVID-19 vaccine to children aged 12-17 years.
The vaccine is administered in two doses. Each dose is 0.3 ml. The second dose is given 21 days after the first dose. The vaccine is available (and is being offered) at all vaccination sites across the country.
Informed consent for vaccination of children aged 12-13 years shall be obtained from parents or guardians who opt to have their children vaccinated. Adolescents aged 14 -17 years will give consent for themselves. Nangombe says children and adolescents falling under the aforementioned age group, and their families, are encouraged to visit Vaccination Sites across the country to get vaccinated. The ED of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Sanet Steenkamp, had earlier affirmed that the initiative has the ministry’s “full support” .“We have more than 800 000 learners in Namibia, and our population is 2.5 million, so this is one third of our learners who are in schools that would have some sort of protection against the virus,” Steenkamp states.
Meanwhile, Namibia’s cumulative confirmed Covid-19 cases currently stand at 130 051 with 925 active cases and 3574 total deaths. By 6 December, a total of 378 182 people have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, of which 88 466 have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, administered as a single dose, and nineteen (19) are children aged 12-17 years while 230 614 had received two doses.
Therefore, 319 080 have completed the vaccination. In addition, with the introduction of Sinopharm 3rd dose, so far eighty-eight (88) people are recorded to have received the additional primary dose.