The Commission on Gender Equality has retracted its statement on COVID-19 vaccination and the impact it has on women's reproductive health.
"On the 16th January 2022, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) issued a public statement to the media in which we erroneously quoted an article published in a medical journal which alleges possible negative consequences of vaccination on women's sexual and reproductive health," the Commission said on Thursday.
In retrospect, the CGE said it acknowledges that issuing the statement was a "regrettable error".
"We further regret that it led to the unnecessary distraction of public attention away from our common fight against the COVID-19 pandemic."
The Commission said its objective is the protection and fostering of democracy through ensuring the protection of vulnerable and marginalised communities, which includes ensuring that the information it uses is reflected accurately.
"The Commission will coordinate various education drives in collaboration with various health and medical experts in order to rectify any misinformation which may have occurred as a result of its statement."
In addition, the Chapter 9 institution has reiterated its support for existing government policy and guidelines on vaccination and expressed confidence in current medical expertise and knowledge as provided by the country's medical scientific community.
"We encourage South Africans to exercise their right to access information and to take necessary steps to increase their understanding, through available medical information and expertise, of the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the benefits of vaccination."
Following the controversial statement, the Department of Health refuted claims by the Commission that vaccines may cause a small change to women's menstrual cycle length.
The department continues to maintain that COVID-19 vaccines are effective in women of reproductive age and pregnant women.
"COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against severe illness, and immunising women of reproductive age is important as both South African and global data have clearly shown that SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy significantly worsens obstetric and neonatal outcomes, making it imperative that vaccination programmes target young women before and during pregnancy," the department said early this week.