What you need to know:
- The WHO experts, however, maintained that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks such as heart inflammation and blood clots in all age groups.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has asked government to focus on vaccination of adults and people with underlying health conditions, saying it is “less urgent to vaccinate children.”
The information contained in the WHO interim statement on Covid-19 vaccination for children comes a week after government announced plans to start mass vaccination of children aged between 12 and 17 on August 22.
“The direct health benefit of vaccinating healthy children and adolescents is lower compared with vaccinating older adults due to the lower incidence of severe Covid-19 and deaths in younger persons,” the details in the statement released on August 11 reads.
The agency added: “As children and adolescents tend to have milder disease compared to adults, unless they are in a group at higher risk of severe Covid-19, it is less urgent to vaccinate them than older people, and those with chronic health conditions and health workers.”
The WHO experts, however, maintained that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks such as heart inflammation and blood clots in all age groups.
Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health minister, in an interview last Friday said they are carrying on with the vaccination of children to effectively control the pandemic so as to guarantee economic recovery and continuity of learning.
“We have vaccinated more than 300,000 children who were brought voluntarily by their parents to get vaccinated. And we do hope that as children break off for holiday, a bigger number will get vaccinated. All the centres are open and they have begun trickling in,” she said.
Dr Aceng added: “We hope that parents who have got information about the benefits of Covid-19 vaccination will bring their children to get vaccinated. We have adequate vaccines for every child who needs it and is willing to accept it.”
According to government statistics, of the 14,000 children, who have contracted Covid-19 in Uganda, seven died. The death rate is 0.2 percent of the 3,628 total deaths registered in the country since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020.
The country is also struggling to vaccinate adults and other priority groups such as the elderly. Of the 22 million people aged 18 years and above that government initially targeted, Uganda has vaccinated 18 million people with at least one dose while a total of 12.4 million are fully vaccinated, according to government statistics.
This means around 4 million people who are at higher risk of Covid-19 have not received any dose and 43 percent of the population that is vaccinated is only partially protected as they have not completed vaccination.