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Uptake of paediatric COVID vaccine ‘slower than expected’

By JADE RUSSELL

jrussell@tribunemedia.net

HEALTH and Wellness Minister Dr Michael Darville revealed that the uptake of paediatric doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is still not going as well as anticipated.

At last report, there were about 700 doses that had been administered, Mr Darville told The Tribune on Tuesday.

“There seems to be a stronger vaccination hesitancy than in the older population being experienced,” he said.

The uptake of the paediatric vaccines has been moving a little slower than expected. In August, there were only about 320 to 330 reported to be administered.

The Pfizer vaccines were administered for children aged five to 11 on Thursday, July 28, days after 24,000 doses were delivered to the country from France through the COVAX facility.

When asked if the ministry had any plans to help encourage more parents to get children vaccinated, Dr Darville noted there is a plan to provide vaccines to children in school settings along with the public awareness campaigns that are ongoing.

“There will be no vaccination sites established at schools. We will prepare a schedule of offerings at schools where parents indicate that they want their children to be vaccinated,” he said.

In August, Dr Darville told The Tribune several factors could have contributed to the slow uptake in the paediatric vaccines.

“It could be a combination of things. One, it could be the fact that kids are moving back and forth, two, the incidents of COVID are very low in the country at this time and we know that when the incidents are low in the country people are less motivated to be vaccinated.

“Three - the issue of the Omicron variant seems to be less virulent and so a lot of people are not in hospital sick from COVID and so all of these combined factors could be associated, along with parents travelling, could be associated with the slow uptake with the doses, but they are available,” he said last month.

Additionally, the mask mandate is scheduled to be lifted on October 1. People will no longer be required to wear a mask in the country except for those accessing healthcare facilities, visiting senior care homes or in an indoor classroom setting.

However, the lifting of the mask mandate has sparked some mixed reviews, as Super Value owner Rupert Roberts recently told Tribune Business he felt it was “too dangerous” to end the protocol in food stores given that they typically attracted large numbers of shoppers who frequently find themselves in close proximity to one another.

When asked about the mixed reviews from businesses on the mask mandate, Dr Darville said the ministry has made its recommendations of wearing the masks clear.

“The ministry has made its recommendations clear as to the wearing of masks moving forward. Businesses are able to implement whatever measures they desire once those measures do not break the law,” he said.