UNICEF Children’s Champion Faith Marshall-Harris is concerned that while children may be open to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, there are parents who seem to have a different mindset that can hinder the process.
Speaking to members of the media at the National Botanical Gardens on Saturday, where she donated and planted two Jamaican ackee trees to commemorate World Children’s Day, Marshall-Harris said the pandemic has not only tremendously interrupted children’s schooling experience, but also their social life, particularly their ability to interact face-to-face with their peers.
The UNICEF Champion said it is important for children to get the vaccine, to contribute to the overall safe return to normalcy in Barbados, which would also allow children to resume their regular lives.
“But the children seem to be very comfortable with the idea of vaccines because they are accustomed to them. They know that they have to get immunized in order to get into school and they are very comfortable with the idea of getting the vaccine,” she said.
“It is now the parents who I suppose got into this whole business on social media about the concerns of the vaccine, but children are fine with it. They have to be vaccinated but I want to ensure that they do not create a situation where the children don’t want to be vaccinated. I want to ensure that everybody is comfortable.”
Marshall-Harris said that at this time, through the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust Children’s Helpline she has been hearing from children who are concerned regarding the limitations of online school, particularly those who have to sit major examinations.
She said she has also been speaking to parents who have to attend work and are finding it difficult to provide supervision for their young charges at online school.
“But let me say that that is a big concern at the moment. There are other concerns too that one would have for children and that is that there is still a fair amount of abuse in Barbados and that needs to stop.
“Adults sort of taking out their anger and frustration on children is something that is a concern. I am not concerned about the youth. I am concerned about the people that deal with the youth. I think the youth will be okay once they are getting the right precepts and examples,” Marshall-Harris said.
She explained that the trees, which she planted with the assistance of Levi Williams, Sarika Perch, and Kia Perch, were donated for the benefit of the children of Barbados. She said celebrating World Children’s Day is also the opportunity to highlight activism of children worldwide, as it relates to the environment and climate change.
“As we know trees are very important in terms of the environment and enhancing our climate. So, I thought that was the most appropriate gift for the children of Barbados today. And we are also trying to remember that children have led the world in the past couple of years in paying attention to climate change and the need to preserve the environment,” she said. (AH)