Parents in Trinidad and Tobago are being encouraged by the Medical Association in the country to vaccinate their children against COVID-19. It is recommended that children in the age group of five to eleven take the vaccine to avoid being adversely affected if they contract the virus.
In a statement, the organization said that local physicians have witnessed children in this age group suffering from COVID-19, primarily with mild symptoms. There has also been an increase in pediatric cases of all ages at health centers, district hospitals, and among pediatricians and family doctors. It added that 12 children under 16 had died due to complications caused by COVID-19 in the local area.
As a fraternity, the association was worried about the high number of children suffering from multisystem inflammatory syndrome-C (MIS-C) brought to hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms.
Parents were advised to have their children vaccinated to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among primary school children, which will result in fewer MIS-C admissions.
Furthermore, the group emphasized that the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children five to eleven years of age has been approved regionally and internationally by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Drug Administration, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), among others. The COVID-19 vaccine can also be procured locally for children.
The report recommended that vaccines should be available at the mass vaccination sites after school hours to facilitate optimal uptake and reduce school absenteeism. All vaccination sites should provide enough opportunity for parents to discuss this with a healthcare provider so they can make an independent decision on behalf of their children. COVID-19 Vaccination for ages five to eleven began in Trinidad and Tobago on May 25.
According to the Medical Association, giving the vaccine to low-risk children is unsupported by satisfactory evidence of an acceptable benefit-risk ratio, disregards the principle of “first do no harm” and fails to follow informed consent guidelines.
Terrence Deyalsingh, Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Health, said the vaccine was not mandatory, and parents were choosing whether or not to have their children vaccinated. He said the vaccine was widely supported by doctors in the country, including the association and the Pediatrics Association.