South Africa

GroundUp Covid-19

Committee established to decide on Pfizer vaccination for adolescents 

Committee established to decide on Pfizer vaccination for adolescents 
(Illustration: Lisa Nelson/GroundUp)

This follows an appeal by vaccine sceptics against Sahpra’s decision to approve this coronavirus vaccine for adolescents.

The Minister of Health has announced a committee to review the approval of a Covid vaccine for adolescents by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra).

This follows an appeal by an anti-vaccination organisation called Free the Children — Save the Nation against the decision in 2021 by the Sahpra to approve the Pfizer vaccine for teens. In October the Minister opened up vaccination to children older than 12.

The Minister appears to be legally obligated to set up the committee. The Medicines Act says that any person “aggrieved” by a Sahpra decision may appeal it. Then if the CEO of Sahpra and the appellant cannot resolve the dispute, the establishment of this committee, by the Minister, is the next step.

The Act says that each party — the CEO of Sahpra and the appellant — choose two people to sit on the committee (all must have knowledge of the subject matter). The Minister appoints a person with appropriate legal knowledge to chair the committee.

The committee, therefore, consists of five people. Professors Glenda Gray and Salim Abdool Karim, both experts on infectious disease and vaccination, have been chosen by the Sahpra CEO. Free the Children has chosen two doctors sceptical of vaccination: Herman Edeling and Stephen Schmidt.

The committee will be chaired by well-known advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi. The committee hearing will take place on 11 and 14 February. A ruling has to be issued within 30 days of its first meeting.

If the ruling is in favour of Sahpra, nothing changes. If the ruling goes against Sahpra it may endanger the health department’s Covid vaccine programme for adolescents, though the department may be able to continue to provide the vaccine “off-label”, meaning without Sahpra’s approval.

Either party can then take the ruling on review to court if it remains aggrieved.

Comment by GroundUp Editor

Free-the-Children is an anti-vaxxer organisation trying to deny parents the right to have their children vaccinated. They have chosen two committee members who, to put it in the mildest terms, have little credibility among their medical peers for their pseudoscientific views on Covid and vaccination. There is anger among health experts at this blatant attempt to undermine public health and freedom of choice by an extremely sinister bunch of people.

It is not at all clear whether Free the Children even has standing to bring the appeal. GroundUp understands that this issue has been raised by SECTION27 in related proceedings in the high court. DM

First published by GroundUp.

[hearken id=”daily-maverick/9072″]


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.