Uganda to vaccinate children aged 5 -17 years against Covid-19

vaccinate children

The government of Uganda has revived plans to vaccinate over 16 million children aged from five to17 years against COVID-19.

Vaccination of children in the said age group was first mooted in August last year as one of the conditions that had been tagged on school reopening.

Experts rebuked the government’s plan to re-open schools after vaccinating learners saying it was not feasible.

Later, the ministry rescinded the move due to the lack of vaccines at the time to cover both adults and children.

Their reasoning was also backed by scientific research which suggested that children are not as susceptible to the disease as adults.

But, with new variants and the uncertainty when the pandemic could end, children are being looked at as a group that needs to be protected against COVID-19 infections since they can spread the disease to elderly relatives who are highly susceptible and can even succumb to the disease.

Scientists in nations that have authorized the move have been examining the evidence for vaccinating children.

Many of them, like those in the United Kingdom, came to the conclusion that mass vaccination should be carried out in order to protect children from major sickness and future COVID-19 waves.

In the new arrangement, government seeks to vaccinate children by categorizing them in two sub group.

According to Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, the director public health and also the COVID-19 Vaccination Incident Commander, the first group will contain 6.8 million children aged 12 to 17 years and the second will have 9.22 million children of 5 to 11 years.

Although it’s not yet clear when the actual vaccination will be rolled out, health minister Jane Ruth Aceng says they are going to procure vaccines for this age group soon since some funds have already been earmarked for this purpose.

Some of the monies to roll out the vaccination of learners will come from Sh632.74 billion from World Bank which was offered to Uganda for COVID-19 Response and Emergency Preparedness.

The money will also be used to procure extra booster doses and to also offer logistical support to the vaccination exercise.

Plans to vaccinate children between 5 to 17 come at the time when authorities are trying to curb a likely spread of covid-19 infection in schools which were recently opened after an unprecedented 2 academic years of school closure which was induced by the pandemic.

Experts from both health and education ministries say that the arrangement will also strengthen other efforts that have been put in place to prevent surging numbers of COVID-19 cases to avoid the repeat of the last year’s experiences that saw schools being closed for the second time.

Due to their vulnerability to COVID-19, the nation previously set aside a few doses of the vaccine for students aged 12 and above who had co-morbidities such as asthma, cancer, diabetes, or HIV.

Following prior approvals for learners aged 12 and above, the Pfizer vaccine was licensed for use among children aged 5-11 as a way of preventing COVID-19 infections.

According to the FDA, the vaccine was approved after extensive research on its efficacy revealed that immune responses among children in this age range resembled those of older people aged 16 to 25 years.

The vaccination was discovered to be 90% efficient in preventing the illness in students.

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