By RNZ.co.nz. Republished with permission
About 8000 children in Fiji have contracted Covid-19 since April this year, health authorities said.
This week, the Government launched its vaccine rollout across the country for children aged 15 to 17.
The aim is to get these senior students back in school, which had been closed for the past five months.
According to an advisory from the Ministry of Health, children from 15 to 17 years of age would receive the Moderna vaccine first because they were mostly in secondary school.
Some of these students were nearing the end of their secondary education, the ministry said.
The advisory further stated that Year 12 and Year 13 students need to sit external exams.
Opposition MP Salote Radrodro called on the Government to table a plan in Parliament on the vaccination rollout for children.
The Social Democratic Liberal Party member told the House on Monday some parents had not yet accepted the vaccine concept.
Radrodro said there was a need for the communities to be better informed and educated on the issue.
The SODELPA MP also said reports that some parents were concerned that the Covid-safe measures in schools should be addressed.
“Do the schools have the capacity to practise that in the classrooms in regards to the wearing of masks?
“Will this be mandatory to all the schools? Who is going to be providing the children with masks in schools?”
Health Secretary Dr James Fong said unlike the workforce, vaccination was not mandatory for children in Fiji.
The ministry had deployed teams to the remote areas to ensure children eligible to receive the vaccine could get it.
Rollout by school clusters
Details of the rollout plan included the Moderna vaccine would be rolled out by school clusters across the country.
Schools that were close to each other would be grouped to form a cluster.
Children will need to receive two doses of the Moderna vaccine which was administered at a dose interval of 28 days, the ministry said.
Parents and guardians would be asked to sign a consent form for children receiving the vaccine.
They would also be able to register their child online.
Before going to the vaccination sites, parents are urged to ensure their children were well hydrated and had eaten well.
“Ensure that you are carrying all the necessary documents requested,” the ministry said.
“Please follow all Covid-19 safe measures when going to the vaccination sites
“Wear a mask and maintain physical distancing of two metres. Avoid crowds. Wash or sanitise hands frequently and keep the careFIJI app on your mobile phone always on.”
According to the Education Ministry, 26 percent of students over 18 years are fully vaccinated while 30 percent have only had their first jab.
Of the 9115 students in Year 13, 8349 students were over 18 years and the remaining 766 students were 17 years old.
With 66 percent of target population fully vaccinated, the Government said it was on track to achieve the 80-percent rate in November when it plans to reopen Fiji’s borders to the world.