Section 27 has lamented the African Christian Democratic Party’s (ACDP) court interdict against the rollout of vaccines to teenagers as a risk jeopardising pupils’ rights to equality, access to healthcare services, and basic education.
Section27 reiterated its stance on Tuesday that it will be joining the fight in support of the health department’s decision to vaccinate tweens and teens against Covid-19.
The organisation has filed heads of argument with the High Court of South Africa Gauteng Division in Pretoria supporting the government’s rollout of Covid-19 vaccines for 12- to 17-year-old children.
The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) raised objections against the department’s vaccination rollout plan targeting adolescents.
The matter, brought by the ACDP and their partners against the National Department of Health and South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), will be held in open court before Judge Potterill.
“Section27 is intervening as an amicus curiae (friend of the court), to furnish the court with information about the adverse educational, social and mental health impacts of Covid-19 on learners and their experiences of schooling over the past two years,” said spokesperson Julia Chaskalson.
“Now that schools have reopened fully without rotational timetables, it is crucial that vaccination of adolescents be permitted to continue so that learners who attend schools with poor and overcrowded infrastructure are protected from the worst effects of Covid-19.
“Together with other non-pharmaceutical interventions like ventilation and the wearing of masks, vaccines are crucial to keeping young people safe from Covid-19 outbreaks while at school.
“We believe that any efforts to interdict the rollout of vaccines to teenagers risks jeopardising learners’ rights to equality, access to healthcare services, basic education, and section 28(2) of the Constitution which states that a ‘child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.”
The National Department of Health and Sahpra are opposing the application by the ACDP, and have through their papers “shown accurate scientific evidence about the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for teenagers”.
Chaskalson said the organisation believes that vaccinations must be made more accessible to young people, not suspended as the ACDP and their partners hope for.
“Going into the winter months where chances of resurgences of the Corona Virus are more likely, the ACDP’s proposed ban on vaccines for teenagers could have disastrous outcomes – not only for learners themselves, but for entire school communities.”