Rwanda: Five Things to Know as Rwanda Rolls Out Covid-19 Vaccine to 12-Year Olds

(file photo).
22 November 2021

The Ministry of Health will vaccinate children in schools aged 12 years old and above starting with the City of Kigali from Tuesday, November 23, and later on, the exercise will be scaled up to upcountry schools.

So far, Rwanda has vaccinated more than 5.5 million with at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Of these, more than 2.9 people are fully vaccinated.

Various countries have authorized the Covid vaccination for children aged 12 years old including the United States, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, and Italy among others.

The New Times looks out five things you need to know about this new inoculation exercise.

1. The type of vaccines to be used

According to Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) officials, children will get the available doses. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is suitable for use by people aged 12 years and above.

2. Number of vaccines

According to RBC, there are enough vaccines to cover all the targeted beneficiaries, and Rwanda is still receiving more doses.

Recently, the Ministry of Health received 1,600,000 million doses of Moderna from Canada under the COVAX facility.

3. Only those with parents' consent will be vaccinated

For all children aged 12 and below 18, their parents or guardian must approve prior to vaccination. Whoever will not get approval from their parents or guardians, will not be allowed to get the jab, Officials from the health ministry said.

"We are working with schools so that parents can sign for the children to give them permission to be vaccinated. All schools will collect consent forms signed by parents for the children," said Dr. Tharcisse Mpunga, the State Minister in charge of Primary Healthcare

4. The importance of vaccines to children

Minister Mpunga explained that while Children may not develop Covid-19 symptoms, they can always catch the virus and spread it.

"In places where the children have been vaccinated, there have been good results. It is important for children to continue studying, as it reduces the possibility of closing schools," he said.

5. The effects of vaccines on children

RBC officials and online research conducted shows no unusual challenge of vaccinating children except for some side effects.

According to Mpunga, before rolling out the exercise, they did a survey on other countries which have been vaccinating children below 18 and found out it is safe to vaccinate them.

According to WHO, like any vaccine, Covid-19 vaccines can cause side effects, although many people do not experience them.

The vast majority of side effects are mild and short-lived. They can include pain where you received the injection, tiredness, fever, chills, nausea, or a headache.

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