Yea and nay
Parents have mixed views on Pfizer's claim its vaccine is safe for children 5 to 11 years oldSaturday, September 25, 2021
BY JASON CROSS
JAMAICAN parents have given mixed responses to Monday's announcement by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech that clinical trials have shown that their vaccine is safe and effective for children ages five to 11 at one-third of the dose given to adolescents and adults.
The vaccine is already available for anyone 12 and older, and with the new development Pfizer said it will seek authorisation for use from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Responding to the announcement, professor of Caribbean sustainable development at The University of the West Indies Anthony Clayton said he would have no problem having his son taking the Pfizer vaccine once it has been approved by the health authorities.
“Definitely, I would. The efficacy has been established. Pfizer has reported that it is getting a robust immune response in children that have been vaccinated. There are no significant safety concerns and so once it has been cleared by the FDA, then I would have no hesitation in having my child vaccinated. I have read the reports and I think the vaccine has been very carefully evaluated and tested and you may have also seen that there are early reports that unvaccinated children have become a major reservoir of potential infection in some countries,” Clayton pointed out.
According to the professor, if life is to return to normal, a time will come when everybody, including small children, will need to get vaccinated. He argued that although vaccinated people can still get COVID-19, reports from the experts still indicate that serious illness and death can be avoided.
He said that the day will come “quite soon”, when vaccination against COVID-19 is routinely included in the vaccination programme for children, “just as we have already vaccinated our children against polio, measles, mumps, rubella”.
“Everybody needs to get vaccinated. If everybody gets vaccinated, then they are much less likely to die. At the moment, over 90 per cent of the people dying from COVID-19 are the unvaccinated. If you get vaccinated you can still get the virus but it is extremely unlikely to kill you, versus if you are not vaccinated and you get the virus. The vaccine allows your immune system to respond very quickly to neutralise the virus or identify any infected cells and kill them very quickly,” he said.
“There is an awful lot of misinformation and a lot of people are really just not familiar with the science of the issues. In most cases children do not get seriously ill when they get infected, but they can transmit it to other people. They could carry it home to their grandparents who, when they get the virus, are much more likely to suffer severe consequences,” he said.
Professor Clayton's views were shared by a mother who was excited by the promise that Pfizer's research holds for her 10-year-old son and other children.
“I wasn't satisfied to know that it is available to others and not to him. If it becomes available, I would have a bit more comfort but I would still have to seek medical guidance because he has a chronic illness,” the mother, who requested anonymity, told the Jamaica Observer.
“The younger ones are suffering because this online education platform is not really for them. It is more for tertiary level students. They don't have that attention span to sit down at home and focus,” she said in reference to the move to online classes by schools due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.
However, Kimone Hunter, a St Thomas mother of a six- and a 10-year-old, was opposed to having her children vaccinated.
“No, dem nah tek it! Mi a go wait until about five years fi see if everything work out with the vaccination programme. Mi affi see seh it a work five years down the line. Nobody in my household is vaccinated because I still don't trust them that much. Even my son weh go high school, if he has to be vaccinated fi go school, him a go stay home. If dem nah teach online class again, him still a stay home. I will hook him up on Google and YouTube and him must learn. When my pickney dead dem nah go seh a dem vaccine kill dem,” she said.
Kimberly Cummings, also from St Thomas, said she would not feel comfortable sending her five-year-old daughter to be vaccinated. The vaccine, she said, is a “glorified multi-symptom medication”.
“I want her to go back to school but I think her school can operate and maintain the protocols. I think the vaccine doesn't stop you from getting it and there is no guarantee that it is going to keep you out of the hospital,” Cummings argued. “It is supposed to lessen the chances but there is no guarantee. It is pretty much like a multi-symptom. I am not going to make my five-year-old take the vaccine.”