Incidence of coronavirus infections in children in Fiji have been linked to their living conditions, says Minister for Health Dr Waqainabete, underlining the need for eligible children and adults to get vaccinated.
During the April outbreak, 8345 children up to 19 years of age were infected and a significant number lived in big households, and from high-dense populated areas, having contracted the virus from older family or household members.
Severity of the disease on children, Dr Waqainabete said was similar to those experienced by adults, in that some were asymptomatic cases, others symptomatic and some severe that required hospitalisation.
“And this brings to the fore the importance of why we have the vaccination program that is currently happening for older children. And then, we will have the vaccination program for those below 15. What is important to note is that the whole landscape that we’ve seen in adults also happen in children. We had those who are asymptomatic and a lot of the children were asymptomatic [and] they were picked up because an adult was positive in the family. They tested everybody in the family, the child was positive. We’ve also had symptomatic children, and we had those who are very unwell and needed hospitalisation and need critical care support in some instances.”
Of the total number of children infected, seven of them died, with the youngest person to have died from COVID-19 in Fiji a 2 and half month old baby.
Dr Waqainabete said the infection and death of children underscore the importance of ensuring that all eligible adults and children are vaccinated to protect the younger populace.
“That’s how we protect our children, that and all of us who are eligible to vaccinated we get vaccinated.”
During the first two days of the 15-17 age group vaccination program, nearly 16 per cent of the eligible target population received their first injection of the Moderna vaccine.