Vaccination of children aged between 12 and 17 years encouraged

14 November 2021 | Ministries

Current evidence suggests that children with certain underlying medical conditions in the 12 to 17 years age group are at increased risk of severe illness from SARS-CoV-2 infection and are encouraged to go for vaccination.

The minister of health and social services Kalumbi Shangula explained that the expansion of vaccination to this age group will be done in a phased approach, starting with adolescents 12-17 years who are at increased risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death. According to the minister prioritising those at risk of severe disease, hospitalisation and deaths is critical in the national response. “Among the vaccines available in Namibia, the Pfizer vaccine is recommended for this age group. Legal informed consent for vaccination of children shall be obtained from parents or guardians who opt to have their children vaccinated. Therefore, Pfizer vaccine will be administered to adolescents aged 12 to 17 years.”

The minister also explained that research is on-going to understand whether Covid-19 vaccines can be safely and effectively mixed and matched. Currently, WHO does not recommend the mixing and matching of vaccines. This may only be considered in cases of shortage of vaccines. In the event of a shortage of vaccine in a particular jurisdiction, WHO recommends the mixing of AstraZeneca and Pfizer. “Thus, in the event, that a person has been vaccinated with the first dose of AstraZeneca, a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, which is another mRNA vaccine can be given. However, AstraZeneca vaccine cannot be applied after vaccination with Pfizer vaccine if there is shortage of AstraZeneca.”

The minister further pointed out that any decision to administer booster doses must be evidence-based, context specific and consider the benefits and risks for individuals and society.
“Booster doses may also be considered on medical ground. The immediate priority for Namibia is to continue to vaccinate the unvaccinated population to achieve the set targets before booster doses can be considered.” The ministry will provide updates on the way forward, bearing in mind the vaccine supply and demand landscape, as well as the prioritization framework that includes front line healthcare workers, elderly and vulnerable persons/groups.

Shangula announced that government has been engaging Medical Aid Funds, through Namibia Association of Medical AID Fund (NAMAF) to explore avenues for Medical Aid Funds to contribute towards COVID-19 vaccination for their members and their dependents through the public sector. “Technical consultations were concluded and recommended that an amount of N$713.68 per dose will be contributed by medical aid funds for each member or beneficiary vaccinated. The ministry of Health and Social Services will regularly provide a list of persons vaccinated to the ministry of Finance for engagement with the Medical Aid Funds.”

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