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Feb 04, 2022 / 21:25

Health sector cautious about Covid-19 vaccination for children aged 5-12

Many Vietnamese parents want a safe Covid-19 vaccination campaign for their kids.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Health (MoH) has been very cautious in evaluating the vaccination against Covid-19 for children aged 5 to 12 years old in a comprehensive, scientific and objective way, ensuring that the vaccination safety must be first and foremost.

Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said that his ministry had closely and regularly consulted with the World Health Organization (WHO), scientists, as well as experience of the countries all over the world.

WHO has officially approved Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to under 12, Long said, adding that his ministry also closely monitors the administration of vaccines to children in this age group to see if side effects may occur.

A student of Da Phuc High School in Hanoi's outskirt district of Soc Son completes her vaccination against Covid-19 and receives a certificate in November 2021. Photo: Trong Tung

The MoH is seeking the Vietnamese Government’s authorization to purchase 21.9 million doses of Pfizer vaccine to inject children aged 5 to 12 as soon as possible, Long stressed.

Earlier, at an online conference to deploy health work in 2022, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh requested authorities to look into the possibility to vaccinate children aged 5-11 based on scientific and safety criteria that are suitable for the disease situation in both Vietnam and other countries.

The WHO said the pros of vaccinating children aged 3-11 outweigh the cons, while vaccinating elderly people and those with underlying conditions should come first before moving on to children, Chinh cited.

In an interview with The Hanoi Times via phone about Covid-19 vaccination for children aged 5-12, Director of Hanoi Department of Health Tran Thi Nhi Ha said: “Safety must be the top priority. Health and safety regulations must be strictly followed, with medical personnel standing by to monitor health conditions. All sites must have mobile emergency teams and ambulances to handle any adverse event after the shots.”

Vietnam has been rolling out Covid-19 vaccination for children aged 12-18 using the Pfizer vaccine since November 2021. As of February 1, 2022, nearly 16.3 million children in this group received their first shots. Around 0.3% experienced common side effects, three have died due to "overreaction" to the vaccine.

The country has vaccinated 181.4 million people with at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot, of them, 74 million people have received two shots, and 28.2 million people have got their booster shots.

Parents want their kids vaccinated against Covid-19

Although worried about side effects, many parents want their children to be vaccinated against Covid-19 so that they could return to school.

Pham Thi My, a teacher at Nguyen Tat Thanh Secondary School in Cau Giay District of Hanoi, 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 rule is difficult to be observed at school.

 Many parents want a safe vaccination campaign for their children. Photo: Hoang Long

My said she is willing to let her child be vaccinated if shots are available. However, she worries about the screening process, what type of vaccine 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," My told The Hanoi Times.

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

Agreeing with My, Khuat Duy Anh from Hanoi's Nam Tu Liem District hopes the health ministry would only use a vaccine considered safe for children aged 5-12 and proved to be free from harm 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. However, it is important that health authorities fully understand and  control all possible side effects. I feel both excited and worried," Anh said.

“Amid the pandemic, my family of four is safe. My wife, my oldest daughter and I are all vaccinated with three doses of the vaccine. One daughter currently in sixth grade has not been vaccinated, however. If children have not been vaccinated, they should not go to school, but neither they could study online forever. Therefore, it is necessary to give children Covid-19 jabs," he added.

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

Dang Tam, a parent in Bac Tu Liem District of Hanoi said only when his son in sixth grade 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 prevents Covid-19 patients from becoming seriously ill if infected. While in-person studying may be delayed and online learning extended, safety comes first,” Tam told The Hanoi Times.

He added that even if students are fully vaccinated, they 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.

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