Seychellois youth ages 12-17 can receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine next month
The new consignment of a little over 31,000 vaccine doses is expected to arrive in the country around September 5. (Felton Davis/Flickr) Photo License: CC BY-SA 2.0
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles will administer the Pfizer vaccine to adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 at schools next month, a new phase in the island nation's COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The new consignment of a little over 31,000 vaccine doses is expected to arrive in the country around September 5. The authorities are predicting it will take between five to six weeks to cover this population group. After this, other groups of priority will be identified to administer the remainder of the vaccine stock, which has a lifespan of five months.
The Ministry of Health in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education will administer the Pfizer vaccines at secondary and post-secondary schools. The relevant authorities are doing the necessary to include adolescents who are outside these institutions in the programme.
Parents or guardians will have to sign a consent form before their child can receive the two-dose jab, which is administered three weeks apart.
A member of the national technical working group for COVID-19, Sanjeev Pugazendhi, said in a press conference on Thursday that even if adolescents do not fall sick as often with COVID, there are still a lot of infections among that age group.
“As we speak there are around 100 people between 10 and 20 years of age who are active cases. This means that there are more people who have been exposed to these 100 cases, and as such are in quarantine and missing school as well. This puts pressure on parents as well as they have to leave work to stay with their children when they are infected,” said Pugazendhi.
He said that vaccination will help to reduce this rate, even if not at 100 percent, and added that the benefits of vaccinations outweigh the foreseeable risks.
“Vaccination will also help to reduce interruptions in children’s studies. As we reduce the number of infections through the vaccination programme, it means that this will support the recovery of our economy and the social life in Seychelles, as well as reduce the amount of work that the health system has when it comes to the treatment of patients sick with COVID,” he continued.
There are an estimated 7,000 people in the country aged between 12 and 17 who will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
Pugazendhi noted that so far, Seychelles has vaccinated a little over 70,000 people with both doses of a vaccine, “which means that we have gone over and above the target that we had set for vaccination of adults.”
At the moment Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is using Covishield, Sinopharm and Sputnik in its vaccination programme. Pfizer will be the fourth vaccine made available in the country and the only approved COVID-19 vaccine for the 12 to 17 age group.
Seychelles will receive the Pfizer vaccine through a donation from the United States under the COVAX programme. COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator launched in April by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Commission and France in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.