A health-care worker prepares a dose of Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine. Picture: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
A health-care worker prepares a dose of Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine. Picture: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

Now that Covid-19 vaccinations are open to 12 - 17 age group, how do you discuss getting the vaccine with your child?

By Opinion Time of article published Oct 20, 2021

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By Krsangi Radhe

The past 18 months has been a great challenge for every home. The routine for both parents and children has changed.

The school calendar has been amended almost every term, and children have had to juggle between online learning and face-to-face teaching, group rotation and much more. Social distancing, sanitising of hands and staying home have been buzzwords during this time.

At this point, children have now become exposed to quarantine, the safety protocols of Covid-19, lockdown levels and the loss of friends and family members. Therefore, the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine for children over 12 years of age has now become another milestone for South African families and a topic that needs to be brought forward. For some families this will be a smooth and easy decision – whereas for others it may take a little more discussion in order to ease into conversation about your child and the Covid-19 jab.

Whatever the current situation within your home may be, it is important to have relevant discussions with your child. Parents need to be equipped with the correct approach and mindset when discussing this topic.

Here are a few pertinent points to consider when discussing your child’s well-being with them:

Create a relaxed environment to begin the discussion

Instead of rushing into the conversation, wait for a suitable time to talk to your child about the Covid-19 vaccine for children.

The environment should be a relaxed one, not when you have just picked her up from school, in the middle of completing homework or during the morning rush hour.

Rather, choose a time when both you and your child do not have to rush to another commitment – this will allow for adequate time to discuss questions that may come up in the conversation.

Also remember that both parents have to be in agreement when discussing this topic – this matter should ideally be discussed as parents first before it is presented to the child.

Frame the need to take the vaccine

Briefly run through the events of the pandemic, ie how it began, the level 5 lockdown of 2020 – and how our lives have been disrupted.

For young minds, it is important for us to offer them a complete frame around why it is important to be vaccinated.

By placing the pandemic in the context of the harmful way it has affected our lives and changed our world, your child will better understand the emphasis on getting vaccinated.

Then begin discussions around vaccinations and how this helps as a preventative method against serious illness. By setting the tone and framing the the necessity of the vaccine, you will enable your child to open up her mind and warm up to the discussion at hand.

Get full information and facts around the vaccine

Be sure to have researched the vaccine, side effects and facts around this topic. This will allow for a well-rounded discussion and for you to be able to share your knowledge with your child.

Remember, knowledge is power. If you have a sound understanding of the vaccine and its effects, you will be able to share this with your child in a thought-provoking and loving manner.

Children look up to their parents and caregivers as sources of security and comfort. If you are knowledgeable around this topic, you will innately offer that sense of security to your child. You will also feel more at ease when talking about this to your child.

Be open to engage in questions

A discussion or conversation is two-sided. Do not force this matter upon your child. If there is ‘the parents rule’ mode in this discussion, it will create tension and uneasiness.

Be open to answering any questions that your child may have (and if you do not have all the answers, be honest and assure your child that you will find out from medical professionals).

Perhaps you can watch an online video together (there are a few available) that explains the process of the vaccine in a child-friendly manner and chat about questions that may arise.

Understanding the emotions of your child

As a parent or caregiver, you will know the maturity level and emotions of your child. Therefore, be sensitive when talking to your child – remember, as much as you care, it is ultimately their body and a child is also sensitive to what, how and when things happen to their bodies.

Talk kindly, sensitively and with compassion and care. Do not be closed to their emotions.

Chat to your family doctor

It is a difficult and sensitive matter for both parents and children. The best way around this is to research and track facts from around the world.

It is also a wise option to seek medical advice from a professional who is familiar with your family – your medical history and an overall understanding of your family unit (physically and emotionally). Ultimately, this is a very personal decision, one that is in the best interest of your family to make a priority.

* Krsangi Radhe is the founder of Sankalpa Coaching. She is an NLP practitioner, a mindset coach helping women, children and couples, and a time-line therapist. She is an educator and motivational speaker. You may reach her on [email protected] www.sankalpacoaching.co.za

** The views expressed here may not be those of IOL.

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