Some parents in KwaZulu-Natal say they are fully behind the vaccination of teenagers against COVID-19. Late last year government approved the COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 12 and above.
They have heeded the call and vaccinated their school-going children. Two KwaZulu-Natal learners died of COVID-19 related illnesses last year.
Vaccination of children between the ages of 12 to 17: Prof. Mignon McCulloch
Trisha Wade, the mother of a 15-year-old Grade 10 pupil is among a number of parents in KwaZulu-Natal who have heeded the government’s call to vaccinate their children against COVID-19.
In October last year, government extended COVID-19 vaccination to adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years. This was after a number of children had contracted COVID-19, some with only mild symptoms.
Sadly two learners have lost their lives due to COVID-19 related illnesses in the province. Wade says witnessing a number of people losing their loved ones to the virus is one of the main reasons she and her husband decided to vaccinate their teenage daughter.
“We have vaccinated her, we gave her the first dose of the vaccine last year as it was approved by the Department of Health. So she got the first dosage. As her parents, we are both vaccinated and for us, it was a matter of being safe. We have lost a lot of family members and friends to COVID-19 so it was a no-brainer for us to get vaccinated. There is a bit of fear to that because there is still a lot of kids that are not vaccinated so we still try to social distance as much as possible.”
But Wade says she is now a bit confused after receiving a message indicating that her daughter is due for another shot. She says her daughter was initially told that she will be getting a single shot. Wade is urging the Department of Health to communicate clearly to parents.
“Our understanding was that for that age group, they were only supposed to get a first jab which she did get last year. And then a few days ago, I got an SMS message saying that she is now eligible for the second jab. It is a bit confusing because the question is now is that a booster shot is it the second phase of Pfizer which is it exactly? I think some parents are still not decided whether they want their kids vaccinated so if they can give us more information make it clear so that we understand as parents what is going to happen have these questions answered that would help them get their kids vaccinated, and the more kids vaccinated the better.”
Ready to take the jab
Another mother, Zandile Masuku from Umlazi, south of Durban, says her teen son is not yet vaccinated. But she says he will be taking the jab.
“At first I was not keen to vaccinate my son but after seeing other children without any symptoms after taking the jab I will soon be taking him to get vaccinated, plus my sister’s child is already vaccinated. I think it’s better for learners to be vaccinated for their own safety.”
Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu says they will embark on a drive to encourage learners to vaccinate against COVID-19. He says getting learners vaccinated takes them a step closer to ensuring pupils return to school full-time.
“We are going to embark on a market drive to vaccinate our learners. With the launch that will happen at the beginning of February. But we are not going to force any learner to take vaccination just like we did with the educator, there’s no educator that was forced. But the majority of them, 98% came up and said let’s vaccinate and we are hoping the same from learners. One thing that we need is stability in the sector. The rotational timetable is really affecting us. It’s not working out for the department of Education.”
The Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal was not available to comment on the latest figures of vaccinated teenagers.