Young start to receive Pfizer vax

Saturday 9 October 2021 | Written by Alana Musselle | Published in Health, National

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Young start to receive Pfizer vax
Victoria Fatiaki and Moana Kiriau, who celebrated her 16th birthday yesterday with her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. 21100813

At 8am yesterday the Nikao Social Centre was brimming with people, with an overwhelmingly positive response from parents and guardians who accompanied their children to receive their first Pfizer vaccination.

Over 500 Rarotonga residents received their first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine on day one of the rollout, targeting children aged 12 to 15 years.

As of 7pm last night, 513 were vaccinated – 360 aged 12 to 15 years and 153 adults. Thirty-four people received their second dose after having received their first dose in the last vaccination rollout earlier this year.

It is estimated there are just over 1200 young people in the 12 to 15 years age range in the Cook Islands, with majority residing in Rarotonga.

The rollout will continue today and tomorrow with the opportunity to be vaccinated taking place today from 8am to 4pm and tomorrow from 1pm to 4pm.

Father of two Matapo Makara brought his son and daughter to be vaccinated yesterday. He said that everything was very organised and it all flowed with no delays.

“I wanted my children to be vaccinated because it will be a benefit for them. My wife and I support the vaccine for our children because it will be for their benefit. Not for today but for the future,” Makara said.

Bob Williams, the Secretary of Health, said they were very grateful for the turnout on the first day, and for many of the crowd who even showed up early.

The aim was to vaccinate just under 500 people.

“The flow has been really good. We are just very grateful to our people, and especially to the parents and guardians of our children,” Williams said.

Although there was an expectation that the decision for parents to get their children vaccinated might be a hard one, Williams said by the looks of the numbers, this didn’t seem to be the case.

“For those who are still in doubt, you can contact our doctors here (Dr) Donna Mokoroa or Dr (Yin) May should they need further information to fully inform them. I encourage them to do that,” he said.

Dr. Yin May shared her belief in the vaccine and its administration to younger people as young people can still be carriers of the virus.

Because of this she says it is important that the Cook Islands population is covered as much as possible by the vaccine.

Dr May adds parents will continue to be encouraged to bring their children to get vaccinated, but ultimately it will be their choice.

“We can’t force them. However, the world is changing, if you are not getting vaccinated you are disadvantaging yourself and your children in a way,” she said, referring to recent changes such as airlines including Air New Zealand introducing ‘no jab no fly’ policies and some schools around the world requiring vaccination certificates for students to be registered.

Responding to some doubts many parents on social media have had regarding the administration of the vaccine to younger people still being in the “trial phase”, Dr May said: “I will not say this is a trial, but we are developing as we go based on the clinical trials we have.”

For parents still in doubt, Dr May said: “We have presented the best of what we know and have given references for websites and places to get information. We can’t force anyone, but we will still encourage them to consider.”

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