South Africa starts vaccinations for those aged 12 to 17

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16-year-old Ziyaad Benjamin receives a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaccination Centre of Hope at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, Wednesday Oct. 20, 2021. South Africa has started giving COVID-19 vaccinations to adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years, with a goal of inoculating at least 6 million people from this age group. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)
16-year-old Ziyaad Benjamin receives a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaccination Centre of Hope at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town, South Africa on Wednesday, October 20, 2021. /AP

South Africa has started giving COVID-19 vaccinations to adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years, with a goal of inoculating at least 6 million people from this age group.

The country is trying to increase its rate of vaccinations which is running behind the target of 300,000 daily shots. Currently, South Africa is administering about 185,000 doses per day.

The move is in line with decisions in other countries including Britain, the U.S., Canada, France and Germany, who all began offering COVID-19 vaccines to teens and even younger children months ago. Although adolescents are less likely to suffer severe effects of the coronavirus, many health officials say it’s important to vaccinate them to keep schools open and to prevent them from becoming a reservoir for the virus as the adult populations are immunized.

South Africa will be giving just one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the young age group, according to recommendations from the committee which advises the government on its COVID-19 strategy.

Until now, only people 18 years and older could be vaccinated and South Africa has given shots to just over 20.5 million vaccines, with more than 11 million of its total population of 60 million people fully vaccinated with either the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the two-dose Pfizer vaccine.

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