Wednesday, 17 November 2021 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, will host a virtual town hall to address concerns from regional stakeholders about COVID-19 vaccination for children in the 5-11 age group on Thursday 25 November at 7:00 PM GYT.
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. The panel will consist of Dr Amar Singh, Pediatric ER Fellow, Dr Mallika Mootoo, Pediatrician, HIV Specialist, Dr Narendra Singh, Associate Professor Pediatrics, McMaster University, Dr Rajesh Bisnauth, Attending Pediatrician, Instructor of Pediatrics, Healthcare Informatics, and Dr Tonia Jerrick, Resident Physician, Joseph M, Sanzari Children’s Hospital.
The discussion will be moderated by Dr Rosmond Adams, Director, PANCAP.
According to Dr Shanti Singh-Anthony, Coordinator, Knowledge Management, PANCAP, as more territories within our Region commence vaccination for children in the 5-11 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,” stated Dr Singh-Anthony. She also underscored that the more people vaccinated, the faster countries will get to herd immunity.
Further, Dr Singh-Anthony highlighted that vaccinating children against COVID-19 can help restore more normal life. “Getting vaccinated will also help keep children in school and participating in sports and other recreational activities that they enjoy,” stated Dr Singh-Anthony. “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 included parents of children in the 5-11 age group, policymakers, physicians and public health practitioners, community leaders, civil society organisation representatives, faith leaders and youth.
The town hall forms part of PANCAP’s 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.