Why some parents oppose Covid-19 jabs for children

A woman receives a jab at Kololo Airstrip last year. The Covid-19 vaccination for children is expected to start between May and August. Photo/Abubaker Lubowa

What you need to know:

  • Some Ugandans say the jabs are dangerous since they almost expiring.

Vaccine sceptics have intensified their campaign against the Ministry of Health’s plan to start vaccinating all children aged 12-17 years against Covid-19, Daily Monitor has established.
The sceptics are using social media, especially WhatsApp, to share messages indicating that the vaccines are dangerous and that the health risk of vaccinating children outweighs the benefit, but they are not giving official data to justify the claim.

However, the Director of Public Health, Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, challenged such claims, saying the Covid-19 vaccines are safe, adding that many countries are using them to inoculate children.
Health officials told this newspaper on Monday that the primary aim of the vaccination which will start around May or August is to cut transmission and infections as opposed to fighting severe illness among the youngsters. The Health Minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, is expected to issue a statement about the matter today.

The information against vaccination aims at stirring up parents to challenge the decision of vaccinating teenagers.
“Speak up against this [vaccination of children]. The authority of your child remains with you the parent and not the government.  Safeguard your children against this move. Share this message with fellow parents to warn them of what lies ahead,” the information reads.
Former presidential candidate Joseph Kabuleta, told this newspaper that it is a bad idea to inject children with “Covid vaccines which are under a lot of scrutinies” globally.
“....It is a crime against humanity, that is the reality. There are increasing cases of heart attacks among recipients,” he said. He said his claims are based on data from foreign countries which this reporter could not independently verify.
Mr Kabuleta also said health officials are under pressure to utilise the vaccines which are almost expiring.
“They don’t mind what the side effects will be to the recipients,” he said.

However, Dr Kyabayinze said the negative claims are as a result of ignorance.
“Countries have vaccinated children, if that is deniable, let those people [sceptics] say we are the first country to start vaccinating children. Ugandans used to say that “vaccines will kill us” but now we have vaccinated 18 million people, are we seeing 18 million dead bodies. Time has given us chance for people to believe that what we say is credible and proved us to be right,” he said yesterday.
Countries such as the United Kingdom and the United State of America have been vaccinating children. 

Information from the official site of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that as of March 25, at least 34 percent of children aged 5-11 years in the country had received their first shot of vaccine while 68 percent of those between 12 and17 years had also received their first dose.
Prof David Serwadda, the head of the government vaccine advisory committee, in an interview said the vaccines are safe. 
He said they prioritised adults in the initial campaign because vaccines were scarce.
“We are actually going to start vaccinating that age group [12-17 years] around the middle of this year because the campaign has been mainly in the adults 18 years and above. The first target was to get the older population vaccinated and like many other countries, then we work upwards to children,” he said.

The expert also admitted that children don’t have severe effects of Covid-19. “But they are equally infected and probably the transmission rate of Covid-19 among themselves is very high. So the aim here is not so much to protect the kids from severe disease but it is to reduce infection and transmission to the older population,” he said.
It should be noted that the ministry has utilised less than half (18.4 million) doses of 42 million doses of vaccines it acquired through direct procurement and donations. A substantial number of vaccines is said to be expiring by May, according to information from the ministry.

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