As health officials prepare to inoculate children ages 12 to 18 against COVID-19, the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) is urging parents to give their charges the best chance of fighting the viral illness by taking the jab.
“My advice for parents is that children do get COVID and that they do get complications from COVID, and especially with this Delta variant we have seen that more and more. We have protected our children through vaccination from all the other vaccine-preventable illnesses and therefore we should protect them from this too,” BAMP president Dr Lynda Williams said.
On Wednesday, Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw announced that the Pfizer mRNA, the only vaccine approved for use in children and approved this week by the US Food and Drug Administration, will be rolled out on Friday.
She said the decision was taken after consultations with public health officials from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and several parent-teacher associations as well as the umbrella body, the National Council for Parent-Teacher Associations.
The announcement also came over a week after Barbados received 70 000 doses of Pfizer, a donation from the United States government.
Minister Bradshaw said medical practitioners agreed that the vaccine would add another layer to the protection of the Barbadian population from the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Ahead of Friday’s rollout and amidst high levels of vaccine hesitancy, Dr Williams said advised parents and guardians: “Give your children the best chance to fight against this new Coronavirus that you can possibly give them, just as you gave them the best chance to get all of the other vaccine-preventable illnesses in our society.”
She said parents who decide to get their children inoculated should expect them to develop fever.
“Having a fever after having a vaccination is not an unusual thing, nor is it a strange thing, nor is it an unexpected thing. So fever, the sore arm, sometimes you get the swelling of lymph nodes or what Bajans call a ‘watson-kernel’ under the arms – all of these things are temporary and can go away in a couple of days. All of them can be managed with lots of fluids and paracetamol and usually the children do quite well,” she said.
The Pfizer vaccine will be available to students at seven sites: Harrison College, Princess Margaret, St Leonards Secondary, Parkinson Secondary, the Christ Church Foundation School, the Seventh Day Adventist Church in St Peter and the Sharon Moravian Church Hall in Jackson, St Michael.
In a statement on Thursday, Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw announced that the rollout will be done in phases.
“Target groups will be special needs students, sixth form students, and those in the age category who attend tertiary institutions. The vaccination centres will open from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and persons are advised to walk with their identification cards,” she explained.
Bradshaw said that in the coming weeks, the Ministry will be opening additional centres in an effort to reach every eligible child. (FW)