OPINION: ‘Not all parents in Spain are in favour of their children getting the Covid vaccine’

OPINION: 'Not all parents in Spain are in favour of their children getting the Covid vaccine'
Photo: Photo: CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN / AFP
As several Spanish regions start vaccinating their teens ahead of the new school year and with the infection rate still sky-high among young people, Graham Keeley captures the mood among parents and children in Barcelona.

Needles and children are never easy bedfellows.

The fear of a tiny pin prick in your arm far outweighs the reality, of course, but try telling that to a terrified youngster.

So when the prospect of vaccinating the children came up, it was perhaps no surprise that out of nowhere it revealed a burgeoning anti-vaxxer movement in the midst of our family.

I would far rather get a PCR test than getting injected,” said one of the brood.

Not bothered about a vaccine. Who knows what effect it might have? I am not doing it until I really have to,” said another.

The eldest of the three boys, who is 12 and now in the group which the Spanish authorities are targeting to give the jab, had perhaps a more rational attitude.

If it helps me to go travelling or makes it easier to go back to school or whatever, I will do it – if I have to,” he said.

The conversation came up as this week regional governments across Spain have begun to roll out a programme of vaccinating anyone over 12 without needing an appointment.

The idea is to speed up the vaccination programme at a time when it could slow because people are on holiday or because of the feeling that the pandemic is – more or less – under control. The coronavirus contagion rate has been coming down this month but the 14-day rate stands at 528 cases per 100,000 per inhabitants.

READ ALSO: Vaccine scramble – How Spaniards want Covid jabs more than other Europeans

The percentage of intensive care beds used for Covid-19 cases stands at 21 percent.

Spain is aiming to give 80 percent of the 47 million population the jab to ensure that the famous herd immunity will guard against a sixth wave of Covid-19.

Already 70.4 percent of the population has received at least one dose, while 60.2 percent has had both. This means Spain leads the European Union in terms of the number of people who have been double-jabbed.

For children, the priority is to speed up vaccination levels before the new school term starts again.

vaccines children spainPhoto: Jeff J Mitchell / POOL / AFP

Teenagers and those in their 20s , who have experienced a sharp rise in infections because they are going out and partying, have also become a priority for health authorities.

For state schools in Spain, the new term start is about a month away so the race is on to jab as many children as soon as possible.

At the present the priority is to vaccinate children above 12 because those below that age fortunately have not shown serious complications if they have caught the virus,” said Joan Cayla, of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology.

Many of my boys’ friends have already had the jab. As it is not necessary to make an appointment, it is like a drive-in service, a little like McDonalds. Easy.

However, from anecdotal evidence there is growing opposition to vaccinating teenagers among some parents.

I am not going to get my three children vaccinated. It seems that there is a low infection rate among children so is it worth it?” one friend said.

The reasoning here appeared to be that unless you have to travel, it is not worth the bother.

As the vaccination programme continues apace in Spain in other countries, the logical move seems to be offering the jab to those under 12.

Experts feel this is a move which studies will soon prove is safe to go ahead with.

The context will determine whether we go ahead and vaccinate children under 12,” said Rafael Bengoa, a former World Health Organisation (WHO) health systems director who is now a director of the Institute for Health and Strategy in Bilbao.

One would be: should we give those doses to lower income countries? Or should they be used as a third dose for the elderly population?”

Professor Bengoa added: “Organising a safe return to school all have good arguments in public health terms.

However, the most reasonable move seems to be to follow WHO guidelines and use vaccines for 10 percent of vulnerable people in lower income countries because that will also help to control variants.”

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