“To protect myself against Covid-19,” said little Rita aged 9 years who seems to understand well why she received the first dose of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine at her school. Rita’s mother gave her written consent after receiving information about the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years from the school. At home, we have all been fully vaccinated. We did our booster dose. Now, it is time for our children also to get protected against Covid-19, she said.
Mauritius launched its national vaccination campaign for children, aged 5 to 11 years, against Covid-19 on May 23 at the Petit Verger Government School in the presence of the Hon. Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science & Technology; Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Hon Kailesh Kumar Jagutpal; the British High Commissioner, Ms Charlotte Pierre; the WHO Representative a.i., Dr Indrajit Hazarika and other eminent personalities. The vaccination of the children aged 5 to 11 years is a milestone in the fight against COVID-19 in Mauritius and this has been made possible with the donation of pediatric Pfizer vaccines from the British Government.
This campaign concerns children attending public and private schools as well as 'Special Needs Schools'. With parents’ consent, the children from 307 educational institutions will received two doses of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine within 4 to 8 weeks.
The Health Minister during the launching of this campaign said that fortunately most of the children who were infected by the coronavirus in Mauritius, did not experience severe forms of COVID-19. He highlighted, “now that vaccines for children are available in Mauritius, we need to protect our children and I am sure no parent would like to take any risk with the emergence of new COVID-19 variants.”
Dr Hon. Jagutpal, emphasized the importance of maintaining the precautionary measures set up by both the Ministries of Health and Education since school reopening last year. “We have put in place seven mobile teams to ensure the vaccination of children, including a team for domiciliary vaccination,” he added.
The Vice-Prime Minister Dookun-Luchoomun encouraged all parents to get their children inoculated to break the chains of transmission. “It is important for children to receive the vaccines which will help to protect them as well as their family members”, said Hon. L.D. Dookun-Luchoomun.
Dr I. Hazarika, the WHO Representative a.i., in his address, said “today is a great day for parents, families, and children in Mauritius. After having successfully vaccinated most of the Mauritian adults and adolescents, it is now time to give the children the protection that they need against COVID-19.”
The WHO Representative a.i. emphasized children can get very sick from COVID-19 although they usually demonstrate fewer and milder symptoms compared to adults. Vaccinating children will help protect them from getting COVID-19 and therefore reducing their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations, or developing long-term COVID-19 complications.
“Vaccination can ensure the health and safety of children so that they can attend face to face classes. As we all know, school attendance is critical for the mental health, well-being, and life prospects of children,” said Dr I. Hazarika. We must continue to work in achieving population protection by vaccinating and practicing the minimum public health standards, as these measures will help in achieving maximum protection against the virus.
As of 22 May 2022, Mauritius has vaccinated 80% of its population with a first dose of vaccine while over 77% have received two doses of vaccines against Covid-19, including students aged 12-17 years.
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