Parents want their kids vaccinated against Covid

By Binh Minh, Manh Tung   October 18, 2021 | 03:03 am PT
Parents want their kids vaccinated against Covid
A student of Bach Dang Secondary School in HCMC's District 3 studies online, using a laptop, September 2021. Photo courtesy of parents
Although worried about side effects, many parents want their children to be vaccinated against Covid so that they could return to school.

The Ministry of Health on Oct. 14 allowed Covid-19 vaccination for children 12-17 years old, prioritizing those aged 16-17 and gradually lowering the age.

The vaccines have to be administered in two doses, with both being of the same producer. Parents or other legal guardians must sign their consent for their children's vaccination. The ministry did not explicitly say what types of Covid-19 vaccine would be used for children.

Nguyen Mai Trang, 40, a teacher at a high school in northern Hoa Binh Province, is a parent of a child in the age group to be vaccinated.

She has longed for the health ministry's plan for Covid-19 jabs for kids, understanding that with a large concentration of students, safe social distancing is difficult at school.

She said she is willing to let her child be vaccinated if shots are available. However, she worries about the screening process, what vaccination the children would receive and possible side effects.

Just like with the adult vaccine, children need to meet certain requirements before vaccination and may experience side effects afterward. If they incorrectly declare their health status, deliberately hide underlying disease, it could be very dangerous.

"I hope the health ministry has a process to evaluate and verify the safety of the vaccine and carefully screen children," she said.

From a teacher's perspective, Trang said parents and guardians must know if their children meet conditions for inoculation.

Agreeing with Trang, Nguyen Mai Khanh from Hanoi's Ha Dong District hopes the health ministry would only use a vaccine considered safe for children and tested in many countries around the world.

"The vaccination for students is the right decision for them to return to school soon after studying online for so long. But it is important that health authorities fully understand and can control all possible side effects," Khanh said.

Wanting their children to be vaccinated for school is also the wish of many parents across southern provinces and cities, hard-hit by the fourth wave starting late April.

In addition to the brand and quality of vaccines, many parents want health officials to organize a safe vaccination campaign.

When Le Thi Phuong, from Bien Hoa Town, heard southern Dong Nai Province plans to let students return to school from Nov. 1, he felt both excited and worried.

Recently, the neighborhood she lives in was locked down for more than half a month due to a Covid case. Her family of four is safe, with herself, her husband and eldest daughter all vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine. One daughter currently in eighth grade has not been vaccinated, however.

"Bien Hoa has more than one million people and many industrial zones, so when gradually easing economic activities, there could be potential risks. If children have not been vaccinated, they should not go to school. However, it is not possible to study online forever. Therefore, it is necessary to give children Covid jabs," she said.

Phuong believes in the evaluation and selection of vaccines by the health ministry and related agencies and hopes the organization of vaccination for students could be orderly and safe.

"I think the school and the education sector should coordinate with health authorities to better organize an immunization campaign for students. This avoids missing students. Vaccination at school should also ensure safe social distancing and avoid possible cross-infection," she said.

Shots would be given at fixed vaccination points and mobile stations. In localities where students are allowed to study in-person, children can be vaccinated at school.

In Ho Chi Minh City, online learning is scheduled to continue until the end of the first semester, with students expected to return to school starting January 2022.

According to many parents, a period of 2.5 months is enough to organize vaccination for nearly 700,000 students aged 12-17.

Dang Anh Tu from Thu Duc City said only when his son in grade 9 is vaccinated would he feel ok to return to work and send him to school.

"I understand that a vaccine is not a panacea for absolute safety against the pandemic, but it clearly limits the possibility of spreading or becoming seriously ill if one is infected. While in-person studying may be delayed and online learning extended, safety comes first," he said.

Tu added that even if high school students are fully vaccinated, students should only come to school on certain days. In addition to ensuring safe social distancing, schools should only organize some concentrated teaching sessions and combine both face-to-face teaching with online classes.

Vietnam has vaccinated around 44.1 million adults with at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot while 17.8 million have been fully vaccinated.

Children under 18 account for around 17 percent of all Covid-19 infections in Vietnam, according to data from the health ministry.

Around the world, many countries have vaccinated students 12 to under 18 years old.

On July 14, Chinese media reported the country had fully vaccinated 91 percent of students in the 12-17 age group. Despite the high vaccine coverage, Chinese officials still recommend schools take preventive measures against Covid-19. China's two main vaccines are now licensed for use on children as young as three years old.

However, authorities responsible for the vaccine have not yet allowed children under 12 years of age to be vaccinated.

Canada was one of the first countries to allow children 12 years of age and older to have access to the Pfizer vaccine. Since the beginning of May, parents in this country have been informed they can schedule vaccinations for their children. By mid-August, 58 percent of children aged 12 to 17 across Canada were fully vaccinated.

In the U.S., the Pfizer vaccine was made available to children 12 years of age and older shortly after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine for this age group in May. Similarly, many other countries have approved and deployed the Pfizer vaccine to prevent Covid-19 among children 12 years of age and older, such as France, Israel, the UAE, Singapore and the Netherlands.

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