Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
CHILDREN aged between three and 17 years will soon be undergoing inoculation against Covid-19 in preparation for the reopening of schools, once studies being undertaken are satisfactory.
Schools, which were initially scheduled to open on 28 June for the second term, have remained closed following a spike in Covid-19 cases in the country. In an interview, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said while the Goverment was aware that other countries had started to roll out the vaccination to children, Zimbabwe was still assessing the safety of vaccinating them.
“In other countries they are now vaccinating children in age groups of three to 17, but as Government we have to first of all assess the safety of this. We have to go through the literature and sit down with pediatricians and other specialists that treat children and we assess whether it’s safe to vaccinate the children,” said Deputy Minister Mangwiro.
He said before the Government brings in any medication into the country, they make sure it is safe so as to avoid endangering members of the public.
“We are also going through the same notion to see whether we can then start rolling out the vaccination programme on children after assessing everything and once all has been approved, we kickstart the programme,” he said.
Deputy Minister Mangwiro said the country on Monday is excepting to receive more vaccine doses, with more expected in the next two weeks.
Medicine Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) acting director-general and head of evaluations and registrations, Dr William Wekwete said information was being looked at with regards to the vaccination of children.
“l can confirm that there is some information which is being looked at regarding the possibility of using the vaccine in children. The Government of Zimbabwe is looking into the vaccines from China which have been approved in children and then the Ministry of Health and Child Care will then decide when to start vaccinating them, if it is deemed ideal,” said Dr Wekwete.
Dr Wekwete said China had already started rolling out vaccination of children from the age of three to 17 years.
Meanwhile, internationally other countries are rolling out the vaccination of children. The United States is immunising children between 12 and 15, and expects to have enough safety data to go even below those ages next year.
The European Commission has authorized Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12, paving the way for a broader roll-out in the European Union after similar clearances in the United States and Canada.
Moderna is seeking a green light for using its Covid-19 vaccine for teens as young as 12 in the EU, United States and Canada, as Pfizer-BioNTech’s shot is already being administered across the regions. Pfizer is now planning to test its vaccine on children aged between five to 11 years, while China has approved Sinovac Biotech’s (SVA.O) shot for emergency use in children as young as three.
The new Covid-19 strain, referred to as the Delta variant has also been detected in children, with some of them dying after getting the virus.