Regional And International Public Health Practitioners To Discuss COVID-19 Vaccine For Children

(CMC) — The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), says it will host a virtual town hall to address concerns from regional stakeholders about the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination for children in the five to 11 year age group on Thursday.

PANCAP, the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, said questions from stakeholders will be addressed by a team of regional public health experts and paediatricians who have been involved in COVID-19 vaccine trials for children and are managing COVID-19 disease in children.

It said that the panel, which will consist of experts from the New Jersey-based Sanzari Children’s Hospital, the Canada-based McMaster University and the US-based Healthcare Informatics, will be moderated by Dr Rosmond Adams, PANCAP’s director.

The coordinator, Knowledge Management at PANCAP, Dr Shanti Singh-Anthony, said “as more territories within our region commence vaccination for children in the five-11 age group, it is critical to provide answers to questions from stakeholders, including parents who may have concerns about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines for children”.

Dr Singh-Anthony explained that while the benefits of vaccinating children against COVID-19 have been documented, the knowledge may not be reaching everyone.

“It is essential that we highlight the benefits of vaccinating children against COVID-19. These include the fact that vaccines help prevent children from getting COVID-19 and prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19 within communities,” said Dr Singh-Anthony, adding that the more people vaccinated, the faster countries will get to herd immunity.

She said vaccinating children against COVID-19 can help restore a more normal life.

“Getting vaccinated will also help keep children in school and participating in sports and other recreational activities that they enjoy. Vaccinated children exposed to COVID-19 are less likely to get infected, and so are more likely to be able to continue participating with fewer disruptions to school attendance and other activities.”

She noted that the target audiences for the virtual town hall, which begins at 7:00 pm (ECT) include parents of children in the targeted age group, policymakers, physicians and public health practitioners, community leaders, civil society organisation representatives, faith leaders and youth.

PANCAP said the town hall forms part of its overarching knowledge management strategy to provide information and data on COVID-19 and HIV-related topics to foster an environment where critical stakeholders can make informed decisions.