Govt yet to commence roll out, expected to start in January
The Ministry of Health is yet to introduce the administration of COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in Malawian adolescents aged 12-17.
In November this year during the launch of the COVID-19 Express initiative, Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda announced this would be made possible following Unicef’s donation of ultra-cold fridges which she indicated were already installed at the Community Health Sciences Unit (CHSU) in Lilongwe.
“The beauty with the Pfizer is that we can even give to our adolescents especially from the age of fifteen and as a country we are also discussing that because we are aware that we have some of our children especially those in schools which we need to protect so we’re looking into that and we’ll inform the nation accordingly,” Chiponda was quoted as saying.
Explaining the delay, Programme Manager for the Expanded Program on Immunization Dr. Mike Chisema indicated that the targeted group has its own risks in as far as the pandemic is concerned.
“We still have diabetic children that are in that age category; they are dependent on insulin they have to inject themselves, we also have others that are HIV reactive; we have pediatric HIV and we know the numbers, they also want to be protected because of their reduced immunity.
“We also have others that are asthmatics; they also want to be protected. We could not provide the other vaccines because most of the studies were in the above 18 years of age hence we kind of left this category.
“But now that we have Pfizer that can be given even those that are 12, then probably we need to consider this age group. So we are yet to start, and I can promise you come January we’ll go flat out,” he assured.
On October 29, 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech shots to include children 5 through 11 years of age in COVID-19 prevention.
The authorisation was based on FDA’s thorough and transparent evaluation of the data that included input from independent advisory Committee experts who overwhelmingly voted in favour of making the vaccine available to children in this age group.