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No jabs for kids despite Education Ministry request

2 years ago

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  • Child vaccination at least 1-2 years away: Health Ministry

By Dinitha Rathnayake   Vaccinating children in Sri Lanka will not be done for at least one to two years, according to Ministry of Health Deputy Director General Public Health Services and Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath. Speaking to The Morning, he emphasised that the reason behind this is not having sufficient data to prove that children could be vaccinated without any harm. “We have to do this in an ethical manner; but as far as we are concerned, children cannot voluntarily participate in the vaccination process. We need their consent. We are very clear that safety and efficacy comes first when it comes to vaccinating children.” Meanwhile, the US has already immunised around 600,000 children, aged between 12 and 15 years. It expects to have enough safety data to go even younger next year. The UK is yet to arrive at a decision on vaccinating children. The Ministry of Education informed that it expects to roll out the vaccine for both schoolchildren and teachers before the recommencement of schools. Speaking to The Morning, Education Ministry Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera said a request has already been sent to health ministry officials regarding the vaccination of schoolchildren. “We have requested the vaccines for both teachers and schoolchildren. This has, however, not been finalised yet. We would appreciate it if the vaccination comes just after the travel restrictions are lifted and before the school term starts,“ he added. According to Prof. Perera, there are around 4.5 million schoolchildren in the education system at the moment. Consultant paediatrician Dr. LakKumar Fernando, speaking to The Morning, added that so far, the only vaccine licensed for children is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and that at present, that is also for those above 12 years. “It will also come to Sri Lanka in July or later. When we are comfortable with the available doses as per the country’s need, we need to think of children too, though not now, as it is important to reach herd immunity faster. Until we get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, I believe that the few children who are especially vulnerable – for example, children with diabetes and/or other chronic diseases – should get a slot in the priority list.” Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on 11 June instructed the education authorities to seek the assistance of paediatricians to diagnose diseases and problems in children when reopening schools that have been closed due to the Covid-19 epidemic. He had pointed out the importance of reopening schools in several stages as soon as the Covid-19 epidemic is brought under control. He had also pointed out that teachers can get the required vaccination through the Health Ministry.

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