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Children and adolescents in African countries should also be vaccinated for COVID-19
  1. Nadia A Sam-Agudu1,2,3,4,
  2. Nana Kofi Quakyi5,6,
  3. Refiloe Masekela7,
  4. Alimuddin Zumla8,9,
  5. Jean B Nachega10,11
  1. 1International Research Center of Excellence, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, Abuja, Nigeria
  2. 2Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  3. 3Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  4. 4Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Cape Coast School of Medical Sciences, Cape Coast, Ghana
  5. 5International Projects Unit, The Aurum Institute, Accra, Ghana
  6. 6Department of Health Policy and Management, New York University School of Global Public Health, New York, New York, USA
  7. 7Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
  8. 8Division of Infection and Immunity, University College London Medical School, London, UK
  9. 9NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, London, UK
  10. 10Center for Global Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  11. 11Center for Infectious Diseases, Stellenbosch University Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nadia A Sam-Agudu; nsam-agudu{at}

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Summary box

  • Available evidence indicates that children and adolescents can transmit SARS-CoV-2 infection and are also vulnerable to severe disease and death.

  • There has been recent acceleration in approvals, initiation and scale-up of COVID-19 vaccination among children under 18 years in high-, low- and middle-income countries around the world.

  • Current data indicate that children in African countries also experience COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality, which may be worse than that of their counterparts in other regions of the world.

  • In this article, we outline the global status quo on scale-up of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for younger populations, and make an argument for why African children and adolescents should also be targeted for vaccination.


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2019, scientists have worked expediently to develop effective treatments and vaccines for clinical management and prevention of COVID-19. Drugs such as remdesivir, dexamethasone and, more recently, molnupiravir have had modest to impressive results in reducing risk of hospital admission, time to discharge, morbidity and/or mortality.1–3

COVID-19 vaccine development and evaluation in clinical trials has been rapid, with safe, effective vaccines being available within 12 months into the pandemic. There are several RNA, DNA, viral vector, inactivated and protein subunit COVID-19 vaccines approved for use.4 Table 1 shows the most widely used approved vaccines across each vaccine type.5 None of these vaccines are currently manufactured in any African country; however, participants in a few African countries have been enrolled in adult and, more recently, paediatric trials for these vaccines.4 6 7 Global, equitable access to safe and effective vaccines for all age groups is critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

View this table:
Table 1

Major COVID-19 vaccines approved by at least one country, and paediatric age indications*

View this table:
Table 2

African countries that have approved COVID-19 vaccination for children and adolescents*

Global COVID-19 vaccine approvals for children and adolescents

There is …

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