News / Covid-19

Reitumetse Makwea
Digital Intern
4 minute read
20 Oct 2021
7:52 pm

It’s a vaccine party! Teens rock up in numbers for Covid vaccines

Reitumetse Makwea

They sang and danced, but some of the teens who showed up to get vaccinated on Wednesday did so despite their parents' objections the the jab.

14-year-old Mia Aitken receives her Covid jab at the Centurion Virgin Active vaccination site as the Department of Health commences with vaccinations for children between 12 and 17 years old, 20 October 2021. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Teenagers brought some cheer along to the Jeppe Clinic in Johannesburg on Wednesday, as they lined up to be among the first of the over-12 cohort who now qualify for the Covid vaccination.

Thamsanqa Majelezi, 16, who was accompanied by her friends, said she was excited to finally get the jab, so that she could see her cousins in the Eastern Cape and attend their annual family gathering without worrying about getting the virus.

Although death rates among teenagers and children have not been as high as adults, according to experts, vaccinating secondary school-aged children won’t stop the virus circulating, but it will help reduce transmission to the older population and avoid schools closing unnecessarily.

In a move to encourage the rollout of vaccinations in the country, the Department of Health yesterday commenced with registration and vaccination of young people from 12 to 17-years of age with 1 dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Prof Glenda Davison said there were a number of reasons why teens needed to get the jab.

Children Covid Vaccination
15 year old Keaton Khan receives his Covid jab at the Midstream Mediclinic vaccination site as the Department of Health commences with vaccinations for children between 12 and 17 years old, 20 October 2021. Picture: Jacques Nelles

“Reports have come out that teenagers can still acquire the virus and they can get severe disease and in fact deaths have been reported,” Davison explained.

“So by getting the vaccine it will reduce the incidence of getting the infection, but it will also help reduce the risk of going into hospital, having to receive oxygen, and death and the severe long term effects of Covid-19.”

Davison encouraged teens to go out in their numbers and get vaccinated.

“Getting the vaccine, they also will reduce transmission to older individuals in their families or who they come in contact with,” she added.

“They don’t get the severe disease so that one jab will probably be sufficient to boost their immune systems to still have the benefits if the vaccine. I have read that although they are getting the single dose now there are plans for them to get a booster and a second shot at a later date.”

Jack Cyster, 14, who received his vaccine at Liberty in Braamfontein, said he was proud to have had his vaccination so that he could remain in school and continue his education.

Children Covid Vaccination
15 year old Michaela Smith receives her Covid jab at the Centurion Virgin Active vaccination site as the Department of Health commences with vaccinations for children between 12 and 17 years old, 20 October 2021. Picture: Jacques Nelles

“I won’t lie I was feeling anxious about getting the jab, I had goose bumps but now that it’s over I’m very excited.”

“The jab was quick, easy, and painless, and now I won’t have to worry about getting sick while I’m at school, maybe if we could get everyone to vaccinate we wouldn’t even worry about lockdowns from now,” said Cyster.

“Children between the ages of 12 and 17 cannot legally obtain a driver’s licence, buy alcohol, or consent to employment, or even give consent to have sex but as of today, they can line up for the Covid-19 vaccine — with or without their parents’ permission,” said Cyster’s mom Candice.

“I’m not against my son getting the jab, I got it myself, but our government needs to respect us. They have failed to listen to us and now they are proving all the anti-vaxxers correct.”

Meanwhile, scores of pupils were afraid or discouraged from getting the jab because of family and religious reasons.

“I don’t want to fight with my dad. I’m torn between getting vaccinated and ‘respecting’ my dad. He’s very religious and strict and if something doesn’t go down well with him then as a family we won’t do it,” said one 15-year-old.

She said she had endured many issues involving mental health during the lockdown and home-schooling, and getting vaccinated could help keep her in school and avoid further restrictions.

“We have already lost out on so much time, teaching and learning and although it sounds rude, adults have failed us in so many ways and its time we take matters in our own hands and that is why I’m here,” she said.

Children Covid Vaccination
12 year old Anica Blom receives her Covid jab at the Centurion Virgin Active vaccination site as the Department of Health commences with vaccinations for children between 12 and 17 years old, 20 October 2021. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Liberty’s Zolani Mtshali said they recognised the government-led vaccination programme as a critical strategy to preserving lives in response to Covid-19.

“Liberty therefore supports the mass vaccination programme and government’s objective of ensuring equitable access to vaccines for everyone,” she explained.

“Higher levels of vaccination will also make it easier for the government to relax restrictions currently in place, which is essential to drive economic growth and protect livelihoods.”

She also said they were pleased to be playing their part in helping to curb the pandemic through their public vaccination centre at their head office in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. 

“We encourage all eligible members of the public to get vaccinated and thereby reduce the health risks associated with this pandemic,” she added.

reitumetsem@citizen.co.za