VACCINATING TEENS

Ministry to require parental consent to vaccinate teens with Pfizer

Vaccination of teenagers might not involve going to schools at the moment.

In Summary

• Kenya on Tuesday opened up Pfizer vaccines to teens aged between 15 years to 18 years of age. 

• Data reviewed by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board found the vaccine to be safe for use in this age group.

Vaccines deployment taskforce chairman Willis Akhwale
GET GOING Vaccines deployment taskforce chairman Willis Akhwale
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Teens aged 15-17 will not be allowed to walk into any Covid-19 vaccination post for the jab without parental consent.

The Ministry of Health has said that for the vaccine to be administered, consent from either the parent or the guardian will be required.

Kenya on Tuesday opened up Pfizer vaccines to teens aged between 15 years to 18 years of age after data reviewed by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board found the vaccine to be safe for use in this age group.

“There will be parental consent, we are insisting on verbal consent for the teenagers to get vaccinated either by the parent or the guardian,” Vaccines deployment taskforce chair Willis Akhwale said.

“We have put that measure in place and any other emerging issues will be discussed and advised but that is where we are starting,”Akhwale said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages five and older get a Covid-19 vaccine to help protect against the disease.

Even though children are at a lower risk of becoming severely ill with Covid-19 compared with adults, vaccinating them helps protect the whole family and slow the spread of the virus in the community.

Data from Pfizer vaccine studies show the vaccine is safe and effective for people as young as 5 years old.

“Within this age group we also have people with underlying medical conditions and they have been looking forward to this but as the young who are the carriers they are the ones who are spreading this disease so we need to tackle that transmission at that age group,” Akhwale noted.

The government targets to vaccinate at least 10 million people by end of December and at least 27 million by March next year.

So far, 10.7 million doses have been received in the country with at least 6.3 million having been administered. The proportion of the adult population fully vaccinated stands at 8.8 per cent.

Akhwale has also noted that the vaccination of teenagers might not involve going to schools for now.

“Please note that that is only for the Pfizer vaccine. We are not administering other vaccines to the 15-year-olds, it is important to note that only certain vaccines have been authorized by both the WHO as well as our own ppb for use in certain areas,” Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said.

Other vaccine manufacturers are also studying their vaccines in younger age groups but have not yet received authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The United States is already vaccinating children aged five to 11 years with the Pfizer vaccine with others such as the UK, Denmark, and France vaccinating those aged at least 12 years.

The FDA advisory panel voted in favour of approval to introduce the vaccine among people aged above five years on October 26.

This was on the basis of clinical-trial data showing that the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine is about 91 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in five to 11-year olds.