Vaccine rollout for children slammed by rights group
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CAPE TOWN - A children’s rights organisation has slammed the Department of Health for using the “carrot and stick” approach in their children vaccination rollout programme.
The organisation, Free the children - Save the Nation, said the vaccination rollout programme appears to be administered in a "coercive manner" using the carrot and stick approach where only the “good children" who subject themselves to vaccination will be rewarded with access to a normal life and social activities.
This is as the department has urged parents to assist their children with registration and possibly accompany them when they present themselves at vaccination sites.
Registration and vaccination for children aged 12-17 opened on Wednesday.
This comes after Health Minister Joe Phaahla gave the green light for the vaccine rollout following a recommendation by the Vaccine Ministerial Advisory Committee (VMAC), supported by Health MECs and Cabinet.
The children will receive only one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
The children's organisation, together with the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), have since written a letter to the department and health organisations requesting that they immediately cease or suspend the vaccination rollout programme.
The organisation's John Taylor said: “It is extremely concerning that the ANC government and its agencies persist in making life-changing (and life-threatening) decisions behind closed doors without any public participation. This highlights the continual abuse of the State of Disaster in order to avoid the accountability arising from public participation.”
“The argument that children are to be vaccinated to ostensibly protect society, due to children’s potential role in spreading/transmitting Covid-19, is fundamentally flawed, is utilitarian and a flagrant breach of numerous fundamental rights of children."
Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said vaccination remains voluntary in South Africa.
“Therefore, people should exercise their constitutional rights to vaccinate or not. It is a personal choice. As much as the Children's Act provides that children over the age of 12 years and older can consent to their own medical treatment, provided they are of sufficient maturity and have the mental capacity to understand the benefits, risks, social and other implications of the treatment, we encourage open discussions between parents and children on the benefits of vaccines.
"Thus, consent should not be a concern to parents, and we urge them to assist their children with registration and possibly accompany them when they present themselves at vaccination sites," he said.