For weeks, school principals and heads had been imploring parents to allow their children aged five to 12 to get covid shots but it seems they did not succeed in persuading them to roll up their sleeves against the backdrop of prevalent myths, conspiracy theories and disinformation about the inoculation drive.
Ever since the federal government has authorised the coronavirus vaccine for children aged 5 through 12, several parents in Rawalpindi have refused to fill out the form sent to them by private and government schools, asking them to allow their children to be vaccinated against the deadly coronavirus.
A six-day campaign to administer the vaccine to children aged 5 to 12 years will start from Monday (today) in the Rawalpindi district. The drive will continue from September 19 to September 24.
Sources said that a large number of parents have refused to give written permission for the vaccination of their young children and the drive is likely to founder. The sources said that a large number of wary parents have decided against sending their children to school the whole week unless the drive winds up.
All private school organisations and teachers’ unions confirmed to The Express Tribune that a large number of parents have refused to get their children vaccinated.
They said that many parents have categorically threatened that if something happened to their children after they got the jabs, cases will be registered against school heads and class teachers at police stations.
After the alleged threats from parents, the sources said, school heads and teachers have decided to vaccinate only those children whose parents have given written permission for covid shots.
Private and public sector schools sent consent slips to parents last week, seeking permission for the vaccine shots for their children.
The sources said that around 40% of parents have allowed their children to get coronavirus shots, 57% have refused to do so while 3-5% have not responded to the consent form sent to them.
The sources said that after the refusal by a large number of parents, the vaccination teams will primarily focus on government schools to make the drive a success.
All-Pakistan Private Schools Association President Irfan Muzaffar Kayani said that they will fully cooperate with the health department during the vaccination drive for ending the pandemic. “All those children whose parents have given permission will be given vaccine shots,” he said.
According to the health department, 1,200 teams will also go door-to-door to give the shots to children aged 5-12 years.
Special counters have also been set up in hospitals for the vaccination of children. The corona vaccine is human-friendly and they are vaccinating the entire population of Pakistan.
Sources said that without launching prior awareness campaigns, health teams visiting houses and the mobile teams will face serious difficulties in administering the vaccine to children aged five to 12 years because most parents were not psychologically prepared to administer the dose to their children.
Earlier, Rawalpindi District Health Authority chief Dr Ansar told The Express Tribune that coronavirus vaccines were safe. He said that at the present, “getting coronavirus jabs is the only prevention we have against Covid-19. Since the novel coronavirus is highly contagious, it is necessary to inoculate the maximum number of people.”
The vaccine has no side effects, he said, adding that a separate room will be reserved for vaccination in each school as teams consisting of senior doctors will administer the jabs. He said that senior doctors will be available to tend to possible reactions to the vaccine.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2022.