Are our children safe?
THE EDITOR, Madam:
As we continue to battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are faced with constantly changing dynamics that affect all of us. Last March, we were informed that in the best interest of containing the virus, children would be kept at home because they were largely asymptomatic and unaffected by the virus, and would carry home the virus to the more vulnerable parents and grandparents. Online schooling thus became an integral part of the education process.
There were adjustments made, and continue to be made, as we learned to live with the virus.
1) Children in forms 10-13 began continuation of limited face to face as they went to school for their SBAs. CSEC and CAPE exams were held as well.
2) Sports gradually continued and Champs was held this year, and was successful.
3) A contingent was recently sent to the world junior athletics in Nairobi.
In March of this year, we began receiving vaccinations, targeting front-line workers and the vulnerable, with the promise that grandparents could now hug their grandchildren without fear.
Unfortunately, cases have been increasing, and so are the casualties. Of note, persons older than 30 years are largely affected.
With back to school now on us, we have now been told that children over 12 years of age cannot return face to face unless they are vaccinated. The concerns expressed by the ministry were:
a) to save lives. Fortunately, we have not been having very sick children;
b) so that children would not bring home the virus when they go to school.
This has led to rising anxiety in parents, as well as children. Parents, because of their vaccine concerns, and children, because they generally want to feel included, and will want the vaccine just because their friends got it. The grandparents are also confused because the children, when vaccinated, can still bring home the virus.
Schools have also added to the anxiety by introducing policies which will have children be excluded from activities such as sports, unless vaccinated.
I myself, a parent, have these concerns:
1) As the vaccine does not prevent contraction nor transmission, what are the protocols in place to ensure physical distancing in our already overcrowded classrooms?
2) I listened to the town hall meeting and Dr Melody Ennis mentioned that in the United States over 600 young persons, mainly males, developed inflammation of the heart after the vaccine. She said it represented a small number, and they recovered, so statistically speaking, it was safe. Even though rare, I am sure no parent would want to have the drama of having a child develop inflammation of the heart, and if that child engages in rigorous physical activity, can potentially die during activity.
Are we as a country being too hasty to vaccinate our children when our data shows that our children are the least vulnerable?