Will unvaxxed parents vaccinate their children?
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Durban - THE South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has approved the Pfizer vaccination of children aged from 12 years and above, but a field expert felt that parents were less likely to vaccinate their children if they themselves were still hesitant to get the jab.
Medical doctor and Covid-19 clinical trials investigator Erica Lazarus shared sentiments pertaining to two critical areas that the government together with the Department of Health, among others, can work on in order to successfully expand the vaccination to the 12+ years age groups.
“We still need to overcome vaccination hesitancy. The demand for vaccination is proportionally inverse to access, and that is an issue that we still need to address,” said Lazarus.
“More clinical trials needed to be conducted so that the younger age groups would also be part of the vaccination,” she explained.
Lazarus said that it would come as no surprise if parents were less interested in their children becoming part of the clinical trials, given her background in Human Immunodeficiency Virus research.
“I began working in clinical research on antiretroviral clinical trials and therapy in HIV- infected infants, and it was also during the time when there was also still a lot of hesitancy towards antiretrovirals, even in the adult population.”
“ However, no one would really know until the vaccination roll-out begins. Interestingly enough, a lot of adults were willing to let their children have ARV’s because they understood that it would save their lives, but were not willing to take it themselves, which was odd,” Lazarus said.
“Whether or not vaccination was mandatory, even for children, parents remained legal representatives and so permission to vaccinate them would be requested,” she explained.
The decision to include children in the vaccination programs comes after recent studies have shown that Covid-19 variants would pose a great danger in children’s health, which was not clear at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Initially, we thought Covid-19 did not affect children very much from the first wave, but that has changed over time. We now know that with the Delta variant, the burden on children was quite high, where they can suffer from long Covid-19,” said Professor Mosa Moshabela, University of KwaZulu-Natal Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, in an interview with the SABC.
“We have seen outbreaks in schools in South Africa, and this has limited the possibility of children catching up in terms of learning. I think, therefore, there is a strong case to be made for children to be vaccinated. Schools are daily gatherings, and social gatherings can contribute to reinfections in the households,” Moshabela said.
According to the DoH, a total of 2 483 496 first and second doses have been administered in the province, in both the public and private sector as of September 15. Nationally, 15 447 034 doses have been administered.