August 18, 2021
“Forty years a priest and I would do it again” says Fr Arnold Francis
August 18, 2021

“Make the wise choice” says Catholic Education Board on vaccines for children

The allocation of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines for children ages 12 and 18 began today, Wednesday, August 18. The Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) is encouraging all parents to “carefully weigh the risks” of their children being unvaccinated against taking the vaccine, “and to make the wise choice”.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on August 16 announced the following 14 vaccine sites in Trinidad: Heliport, Chaguaramas, The College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) City Campus, Port of Spain, National Academy for the Performing Arts ( NAPA), COSTAATT Campus, El Dorado; Wallerfield International Raceway, Wallerfield Arima; Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima; Duranta Gardens Community Centre, Sangre Grande; L’anse Noire Community Centre, Toco; Divali Nagar, Uriah Butler Hwy, Endeavour (on Sunday, August, 22 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.); Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva; Pleasantville Technology Centre (MIC), San Fernando; Hansraj Sumairsingh Multipurpose Complex, Rio Claro; Mayaro Civic Centre; National Energy Skills Centre (NESC), La Brea. The Division of Health and Wellness, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) planned to use secondary schools as distribution sites.

The United States donated 305,370 World Health Organisation (WHO) approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. The shipment, which arrived August 12, was earmarked for children “regardless of whether they are registered at schools”, the Health Ministry has said. The Ministry of Education, working with the Health Ministry are planning for the physical re-opening of schools for the 2021-2022 academic year starting September. Virtual and on-site classes will take place.

Responding to a question from the Catholic News on the vaccine distribution for children, CEBM Chief Executive Officer Sharon Mangroo highlighted the emergence of the more contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 which is fuelling another wave of infections. Reference was made to an August 6 article in the Tampa Bay Times, that Florida was leading the hospitalisation rate for infected children. The story cited the Florida Department of Health report of 13,596 new Covid-19 infections July 30 to August 5 among children 11 years and younger, who are not eligible for the vaccine. There were 13,858 cases in the 12 to 19 age group who can get vaccinated.

Mangroo also quoted an article written by local paediatrician Dr David Bratt that warned young, strong and healthy children can get the virus and die. They can also pass the virus to others. He compared the whooping cough and flu vaccines of the past to the current vaccines, observing the Covid-19 prevented 95 to 99 per cent of serious illness, admissions to hospital and consequently mortality. Dr Bratt the stated, “the vaccines are also good at preventing you from getting COVID, somewhere between 50 per cent and 60 per cent effective at preventing infection. Even when vaccinated persons get infected, they get rid the virus faster and are therefore contagious for less time”.

Mangroo appealed for “parents to seek information on the vaccine from credible sources” for example, https://www.facebook.com/The-Bratt-Office-450946188262802/ gave a variety of references. She joined with Dr Bratt and Archbishop Jason Gordon urging all adults and children, cleared by their medical professionals to get vaccinated.

The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) has a panel discussion on today (August 18) at 6 p.m. titled ‘Covid-19 Vaccination: Can it mitigate children’s health and mental wellbeing?’ at www.u.tt/research/covid-19 for more info: ghansham.mohammed@utt.edu.tt


Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

The mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine was developed by US corporation Pfizer and BioNTech, a German biotechnology company. The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) December 11, 2020 granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) for persons 16 years and older. May 10, this year the EUA was expanded for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to include adolescents 12-15 years. On June 25, 2021, the FDA revised the patient and provider fact sheets regarding the suggested increased risks of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart) following vaccination. On August 12, the FDA amended the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine EUA to allow for an additional dose to be given to certain immunocompromised individuals.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which has looked into the link between the vaccine and inflammation reported, “a consistent pattern of cases occurring more frequently in young males and shortly after the second dose of the vaccines”. It continued, “These reports are extremely rare, and the events are typically mild with individuals usually recovering within a short time with standard treatment and rest” stated which has looked into the link.

WHO granted the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Emergency Use Listing on 31 December 2020. In answer to the question: Is the vaccine recommended for Adolescents? The WHO website states: “A Phase 3 trial in children aged 12-15 years showed high efficacy and good safety in this age group, leading to an extension of the previous age indication from 16 years onwards down to age 12 onwards.

Evidence suggests that adolescents, particularly older adolescents, are as likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 as adults. WHO recommends that countries should consider using the vaccine in children aged 12 to 15 only when high vaccine coverage with 2 doses has been achieved in the high priority groups as identified in the WHO Prioritization Roadmap.

Children 12-15 years of age with comorbidities that put them at significantly higher risk of serious COVID-19 disease, alongside other high-risk groups, may be offered vaccination.”