Monday 17 June

MEDIA ADVISORY: SECTION27 TO ARGUE IN SUPPORT OF VACCINATION OF ADOLESCENTS IN COURT ON 28 AND 29 APRIL

SECTION27 appearing as amicus curiae in court case about COVID-19 vaccines for teenagers

25 April 2022, Johannesburg – SECTION27 will argue in support of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to teenagers in the upcoming case of African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) v Minister of the National Department of Health at the High Court of South Africa (Gauteng Division, Pretoria) on 28 and 29 April 2022.

The matter, brought by the ACDP and their partners against the National Department of Health and South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), will be held in open court before Judge Potterill.

The ACDP and their partners seek an interim interdict suspending the rollout of vaccines to teens between the ages of 12 and 17 years. The National Department of Health and SAHPRA are opposing the application, and have – through their papers – shown accurate scientific evidence about the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for teenagers. Latest figures estimate that only around a quarter of all eligible teens have received one dose of a vaccine against COVID-19, and less than 8% of teenagers have been fully immunised against the virus. SECTION27 believes that vaccinations must be made more accessible to young people, not suspended as the ACDP and their partners hope for.

SECTION27 is intervening as an amicus curiae (friend of the court), to furnish the court with information about the adverse educational, social and mental health impacts of COVID-19 on learners and their experiences of schooling over the past two years. Now that schools have reopened fully without rotational timetables, it is crucial that vaccination of adolescents be permitted to continue so that learners who attend schools with poor and overcrowded infrastructure are protected from the worst effects of COVID-19.

Together with other non-pharmaceutical interventions like ventilation and the wearing of masks, vaccines are crucial to keeping young people safe from COVID-19 outbreaks while at school. We believe that any efforts to interdict the rollout of vaccines to teenagers risks jeopardising learners’ rights to equality, access to healthcare services, basic education and section 28(2) of the Constitution which states that a “child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child”. Going into the winter months where chances of resurgences of the Corona Virus are more likely, the ACDP’s proposed ban on vaccines for teenagers could have disastrous outcomes – not only for learners themselves, but for entire school communities.

You can read our heads of argument here. We will advance these arguments orally in court between 28 and 29 April 2022. Because the hearing will take place in person, current court rules state that media are allowed to attend hearings based on the latest health and safety protocols in place at the court. The hearing will be held at the High Court in Pretoria, starting from 10am on Thursday 28 April 2022.

SECTION27 remains committed to sharing accurate information about COVID-19, and answering communities’ questions about vaccines. We will continue to speak on community radio stations around the country to help address concerns about vaccines in the weeks following this court case. Young people are encouraged to reach out to us on social media (@section27news) or to email news@section27.org.za with questions about COVID-19 or vaccines to get more information.  

[ENDS]

For media queries, contact:

  • Patience Phiri (phiri@section27.org.za +27 72 992 8380)

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