What South African children are saying about Covid and vaccination

Illustrative image: Mason Lawrence, 9, gives a thumbs up after receiving the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination pop-up site at P.S. 19 on November 08, 2021 in the Lower East Side in New York. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
By RX Radio
28 Nov 2021 0

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, RX Radio has provided children and parents with information and a platform to voice their opinions or concerns. The platform has encouraged children to be part of the conversation, as valued and active participants of society. By Talitha Counter, Lindokuhle Dlakavu, Cole Macleod, Nuroo Pienaar, Saadiq Daniels, Emily Olivier, Professor Mignon McCulloch and Chelsey Daniels

On 9 August, RX Radio, in collaboration with Daily Maverick, hosted a webinar (watch it here) on the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically the Covid-19 vaccination rollout in South Africa. Professor Salim Abdool-Karim, RX Radio reporter Alex White and Maverick Citizen editor Mark Heywood took to the virtual stage to shed light on vaccinations and ask important questions that children have about the jab.

Children are often overlooked because of their age and inexperience, but that should not invalidate their questions about Covid-19. This webinar pushed the boundaries of what is considered “conventional media”. For the first time, it included children in the conversation.

Since the webinar, RxRadio has continued to solicit the thoughts and opinions of children, including about the Covid-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 18.

Professor Mignon McCulloch represents the South African Paediatric Association (SAPA). (Photo: Supplied)

Professor Mignon McCulloch, who represents the South African Paediatric Association (SAPA), said: We are pleased that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved in South Africa for children over 12 years of age in keeping with other countries across the world.”

She went on to say: “We know that, at present, Covid still affects older individuals more severely and thus it is important that the most vulnerable in our community are vaccinated first. Once this is done, we can start looking at younger people, initially those with comorbidities before healthy children…”

Talitha Counter (17) contracted SARS-CoV-2 in April 2020. She feels it is a good idea for children to get the vaccine. (Photo: Supplied)

Talitha Counter, 17, contracted SARS-CoV-2 in April 2020 when children knew little about the virus. She said she was so scared she thought she was going to die. However, when she heard that children were eligible to take the vaccine she thought it was a good idea as it could protect them against the virus.

Since the Corona outbreak, RX Radio has been able to provide both children and parents with information and a platform to voice their opinions or concerns. Throughout the pandemic, the platform has encouraged children to be part of the conversation as valued and active participants of society.

As the country’s response to the virus has progressed, RxRadio reporters have been more curious as to where they fit into the process.

Reporter Lindokuhle Dlakavu, 13, said the vaccine was a good suggestion as it would help protect children. “I would also be interested in taking the vaccine and I think children over the age of 12 should take it too.” 

RX Radio reporter Lindokuhle Dlakavu (13) said that the vaccine would help. (Photo: Supplied)

Many of our reporters expressed the view that the main reason for people being hesitant to take the vaccine was the lack of information made available that is easy for them to understand — something that was further muddled by the spread of fake news.

Cole Macleod (14) said that “the vaccines are useful and while it might not stop you from getting Covid, it can help how your body responds to it”. (Photo: Supplied)

Cole Macleod, 14, said: “The vaccines are useful and while it might not stop you from getting Covid it can help how your body responds to it. The problem is that people are afraid of taking the vaccine because of the rumours on social media. I want to encourage people that can take the vaccine to take it — it is very important and can save lives.”

To help create positive narratives and shape empowered citizens, all children are encouraged to share their opinions and fears. 

Nurroonisha Pienaar, 11, said: “I hope that the coronavirus goes away some day, because I do not want to get vaccinated as I am scared of needles … and it might make me sick.” 

Nurroonisha Pienaar (11) said: “I hope that the Coronavirus goes away some day,” (Photo: Supplied)

Everyone has different viewpoints and with children, it’s no different. Talitha added: “Whether children want to take the vaccine, it is completely up to them … as it is a very controversial topic.”

It is no secret that many families fell victim to the pandemic. Saadiq Daniels, 16, said: “I would go for the vaccine because I have already lost three family members and I would like to protect myself.”

Saadiq Daniels (16) said “I would go for the vaccine because I have already lost three family members. (Photo: Supplied)
Emily Olivier (14) said she wants to do anything to keep the rest of her family members safe. (Photo: Supplied)

Emily Olivier, 14, said she would take the vaccine, given that she is within the age group and wants to do anything to keep the rest of her family members safe.

At the end of the day, we would like the majority of individuals in SA to be vaccinated against Covid as we know that vaccines have been shown to prevent severe illness, hospitalisation and death in extreme cases,” said Prof McCulloch. DM/MC

Talitha Counter is a 17-year-old matric pupil and an RX Radio presenter. Talitha has her own show, called Talitha’s Get Down, in which she discusses all things music and pop culture. Lindokuhle Dlakavu is a 13-year-old RX Radio reporter who completed her radio diary in 2017. Cole Macleod is a 14-year-old RX Radio reporter. Nuroo Pienaar is 11 years old and an RX Radio reporter who started her journey with the station in 2018. Her bubbly personality landed her a feature called Nuroo’s Popular Playlist on her sister’s show (Thameenah’s Movies and Series Show). Saadiq Daniels is a 16-year-old RX Radio presenter who has his own show called Politics and Jazz with Saadiq. Emily Olivier is 14 years old and also has a show called Let’s Talk About it with Emily. Professor Mignon McCulloch  sits on the councils of two large international children’s organisations, as executive council of the IPNA (International Paediatric Nephrology Association) and president-elect of the IPTA (International Paediatric Transplant Association). She is planning to show that African-appropriate paediatric care and developing local centres of excellence in Africa is possible. Chelsey Daniels is PR and marketing intern at RX Radio.



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