WITH Covid-19 vaccines for children currently under the spotlight, parents in the Northern Cape have had mixed reactions.
On Thursday last week it was announced that the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Numolux and China’s Sinovac have partnered to conduct a paediatric study on the Covid-19 vaccine for children and adolescents, aged between six months and 17 years.
The vaccine study will see more than 2,000 children and teenagers take part in the study in South Africa, with seven clinical research sites across the country being utilised.
The study got under way on Friday with the first child being vaccinated at Sefako Makgatho Health Science University’s MeCru Clinical Research Unit.
Also on Friday, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 and up.
Some parents in the Northern Cape are worried that things might be “moving too quickly”.
“Many adults are hesitant to get vaccinated. How will those parents who refuse to get vaccinated encourage their own children to be vaccinated,” several parents pointed out.
“More education and information first needs to be given to adults about the importance of getting vaccinated. There are many theories and conspiracies about the vaccine and its effects. Those conspiracies are spread and believed by adults. How will a child convince their parents that they want to get vaccinated when the parents themselves do not believe in the vaccine?
“Also, there are many parents who do not believe in modern medicine and are committed to alternative ways of healing. We first need to get those parents on board in order for the entire vaccination programme to be successful.”
Other parents wanted the government to give “clear” information on how the virus is affecting children.
“Our children are exposed to the virus on a daily basis. There are so many reports of teachers that have died due to the coronavirus. Many of the children are carriers of the virus but there are no reports of the number of children who have died from the disease. We have only heard of some children with comorbidities who have died of a coronavirus-related illness. The reports so far have stated that children merely get light symptoms when they are infected with the virus. If the immune system of children is so strong that they are not killed by the virus, why is it necessary for them to get vaccinated? The focus should then be on children who have comorbidities and not all children,” they said.
Some parents disagreed, saying that “children also need protection” and that they will have their children vaccinated should the roll-out for under-18s commence.
“As parents, it is very irresponsible to be vaccinated and not give the same resistance to your children. It is like driving with a seatbelt on but letting your child roam freely inside the vehicle, knowing the dangers of the road. We need to protect our children against this virus, especially since the variants keep on changing. We are not certain how long this virus will last and which variant will be next or how it might affect children. The next variant might affect children more severely than the previous ones. We need to protect our children during the pandemic.”
Others hesitantly agreed that they will have their children vaccinated, but added that the vaccination of adults should be the primary focus.
Several parents said they first want to see the effects that the vaccine has on “other children” before letting their own children get the jab.
“I will consider letting my child get vaccinated, but first I want to see what the effects of the vaccine are on other children. I will first wait and let the roll-out get up to speed before I vaccinate my child,” one mother said.