KAMPALA: The Minister of Health has declared that vaccination of children between 12 and 17 years of age against COVID-19 will be voluntary and with the parents’ consent.
In March this year, the Ministry of Health announced plans to start vaccinating all children aged between 12 and 17 against COVID-19 to contain the pandemic. This attracted mixed reactions among the populace who thought that vaccinating children would be mandatory.
While addressing journalists in Lira City on Friday, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, who is also the Lira City Woman MP, remarked that no child will receive the COVID-19 vaccines without their parents’, guardians’ or caretakers’ consent.
The Minister said although the vaccines are already available, vaccination of children is voluntary. She added that the Ministry, together with the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and Vaccine Advisory Committee (VAC), after consultation with the cabinet, will inform the public accordingly.
According to Aceng, the vaccination exercise will be done during school holidays when the children are at home with their parents for easy consent.
Aceng also called on the population to take vaccine booster doses to increase their immunity, saying the vaccines only act for a short period of time.
Bernard Ongom, a resident of Adidik-gweno cell, Boke Ward in Lira City East Division, is not sure as to whether or not he will have his children vaccinated because he is unsure of their body reaction.
Cinderella Awidi, a mother of two, believes that her children are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 because they are home-schooled. But just like Bernard, Awidi is also worried about how her children will react to the vaccines.
In Uganda, the number of people who have received the first dose of the vaccine is 73% of those 18 years and above, but the World Health Organization says a country should not only consider the population 18 years and above but also those aged 5 years and above. Therefore, going by that calculation, the people who have received the first dose are only 35%, and those who have received two doses are also only 25%.
However, the WHO requires 70% to declare that the population of Uganda is protected.