Ministry to roll out vaccination programme at Khomas schools

Government to go ahead with vaccination campaign at schools
Mariselle Stofberg
Rivaldo Kavanga

Children aged 14 can take the vaccine without parental consent.

The ministry of education, arts and culture recently requested schools to get consent from parents for children aged 12 to 17 to receiver the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine as part of a targeted vaccination programme for schools. This comes after the health ministry earlier this year announced that 12- to 17-year-olds are now eligible for vaccination.

The ministry reiterated its concern regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, which still remains a large public health issue in Namibia. With schools reopening and learning returning to full capacity, the ministry predicted that the number of cases will likely surge. The ministry has thus announced that in order to reduce and manage the situation, they will be making vaccination available to learners whose parents have consented. The government will administer the Pfizer vaccine, which is said to be suitable for learners with conditions such as HIV and asthma.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the Pfizer vaccine, and said it suitable for use by persons 12 and older. Evidence from public health studies also indicate that vaccinated people have stronger immune systems when compared to the unvaccinated, and therefore are less likely to suffer complications when infected with Covid-19.

The health ministry also earlier this year announced that children aged 14 and above no longer need parental consent to take the vaccine. The ministry said only 12- and 13-year-olds need parental consent, while the 14 to 17 age group can give consent for themselves and get the jab. A parent who wishes to remain anonymous said she does not understand why the government is going ahead with the vaccine campaign when the pandemic is beginning to fade.

“In Europe and other western countries, people do not have to wear masks anymore or take the vaccine,” she said.

Meanwhile, Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) spokesperson Esther Shakela said the organisation encourages learners who are eligible to voluntarily take the vaccine. She added that this will better aid with the disruption schools constantly face as witnessed the previous years. She further said government has to look not only at learners’ vaccination status, but at all the stakeholders involved in the delivering of education, such as teachers.