Litigation: Don't vaccinate children plea to High Court

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and a group of community organizations have filed papers at the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) to stop the roll-out of the one dose of the Pfizer vaccine to children between the ages of 12 and 17. The Daily Maverick notes the ACDP is asking the court to issue an interdict to stop the roll-out of the vaccine to children (it is available for children aged 12 to 17), except where emergency authorization is given by a doctor for a child who has underlying conditions. In his founding affidavit, the leader of the party, the Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, said the government was using children to create a shield to protect society from Covid-19.

The ACDP is supported in its application by Free the Children – Save the Nation, the Caring Health Workers Coalition, and the Covid Care Alliance. ‘This application seeks to protect the children from the push to have (them) vaccinated as part of an untested theory that children can and should be used as a shield to protect society against the risk of the spread of Covid-19,’ Meshoe said in his affidavit. John Taylor, from Free the Children – Save the Nation, stated in his affidavit that his organisation had lodged an internal appeal against the decision by the medical regulatory authority Sahpra to authorize the use of a single shot of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 17 – and was still awaiting the outcome. This appeal argued that scientific and medical evidence did not support the administration of a Covid-19 vaccine to children. Meshoe said the children’s vaccination roll-out can only be legal if it showed a clear benefit to children, but in SA’s case it was driven by a decision that the adult population would benefit from child vaccinations and children are being vaccinated ‘for the sake of others.’

In papers before court, Meshoe quotes statistics from Stats SA to show that the rate of coronavirus infections among children aged 15 to 19 was 5.1/1,000 for girls and 3.4/1,000 for boys. Hospital admissions are 0.07/1,000 for girls and 0.04/100,000 for boys. He adds that Stats SA found that there was an extremely low fatality rate from Covid-19 among children, with 331 deaths of children between 10 and 19 registered up to 28 October. The Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has acknowledged that there is a risk of especially young men developing mild myocarditis as a side effect of two doses of the vaccine and that this was the reason why it was decided to limit children under the age of 18 to one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. She added that myocarditis can have long term effects as it can damage the heart muscle and carry an increased risk of morbidity – adding that this side effect has been seen after only one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The Department of Health has not yet filed papers in this matter.

Trade union Nehawu has slammed the Department of Public Service & Administration over a potential mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy implementation. This is after the department confirmed it is considering making vaccinations mandatory for all workers in the public service. ‘Proposals are under consideration to increase the voluntary uptake of vaccines by public servants through advocacy by communicating the benefits of vaccination,’ the department said in a statement. The Citizen reports that Nehawu said although it has called on government to procure more vaccines and ramp up the rollout of the vaccination programme, ‘it is very unfortunate that (the department) saw it necessary to mislead employees against the commitment of President (Cyril) Ramaphosa who on record had assured the country that no one shall be forced to take the vaccine’.

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