08 Mar 2022

Children Vaccination Stories: Parents’ Love in The Midst of A Pandemic

by:Amira Sofa

Editor:Aditya Gagat Hanggara

08 Mar 2022

As adults, Smartcitizens perhaps already know the importance of getting vaccinated against Covid-19. So, usually you can make our own decisions and are willing to be vaccinated. Has it ever crossed your mind, what about children who generally don't know much about vaccinations? It is public knowledge that parents play an important role behind the willingness and desire of children to be vaccinated. Jakarta Smart City Team had the opportunity to catch up with two parents who wanted to share their experiences about child vaccination. Interested? Let’s read more. 

Rika Zikriyyah: Vaccines Help Children Get Their Rights

Our first interviewee was Rika Zikriyyah or Rika as she is usually called, a Civil Servant of the Jakarta Communication and Information Service. She has two children, 11 years old Azri and 4 years old Azka. Included in the age criteria for the vaccine recipients, Azka, the eldest child, has been vaccinated with dose 1 on January 6 and dose 2 on February 7. During our conversation, Rika told us since the beginning of the pandemic that she and her husband had been educating their children regarding health protocols, including vaccinations. "We are getting Azka and Azri adapted to eating healthy food, exercising, maintaining cleanliness, and getting enough sleep, so they are not susceptible to viruses. Once I heard about the vaccination for Jakartans, we explained to them about vaccination and the function of vaccines so that the protection from exercise, nutritional intake becomes more optimal and viruses cannot infect their bodies." The knowledge that Rika shared from the start grew Azka’s awareness. He was excited to be vaccinated, even long before children vaccination were held. “He used to ask me all the time, Mom, when can I get vaccinated? He said he wanted to be able to play outside the house more comfortably as soon as possible,” said Rika, mimicking her son's voice.

Time passed by and the vaccination of children aged 6-11 years was finally held. Rika admitted that she had no difficulty in getting information regarding the administration of child vaccinations because her work in the government made her exposed to information. She immediately plans to book Azka’s vaccination appointment. “Initially, I wanted to register for vaccinations through JAKI since the process would be so easy and I could choose the schedule and location. But apparently, Azka's school held vaccinations and we decided to register Azka's vaccinations there," she continued.

After the vaccination registration was completed, Rika and her husband also prepared and accompanied Azka for the next phase, which is the vaccination itself. "For the preparation, nothing special. We just remind Azka to reduce the intensity of playing before and after vaccination so that the body doesn't get tired," he said. At the time of vaccination, Rika admitted that there were no significant problems. No queues piled up. The flow and distribution of the vaccination schedule was well executed. The school has been providing education about vaccines during teaching and learning activities since long ago. Azka, who was enthusiastic about being vaccinated from the start, never felt afraid at the vaccination site. Maybe because he was in 5th grade and had been vaccinated before. Even so, Rika explained that there were some younger students who refused to be vaccinated when they saw needles. Fortunately, the health workers on duty are skilled at distracting the children who receive the vaccine, so they do not realise that they have been injected. After being vaccinated, Azka also did not experience a significant Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) other than soreness at the injection site.

Azka's courage to be vaccinated is indeed commendable. It's not just a matter of not being afraid of needles. More than that, a child as young as himself has realized the importance of being vaccinated to maintain the health of himself and others in the midst of a pandemic. However, what about the parents? What made Rika and her husband dare and believe in registering their child for vaccination? Rika answered firmly; Children have their own rights. “Schools in Jakarta at that time started implementing Face-to-face Learning (PTM). Face-to-face schooling and socializing are children's rights, so I, as a parent, must strive so that they can get their rights, while still being protected from the virus. Getting them vaccinated is one of the ways,” said Rika.

More than just body protection, but a bridge between children and their right to go to school and socialize. That's what children vaccination means to Rika. Therefore, in the future, she and her husband will continue to keep their children implementing the health protocols and guide them to get their shots. She also advised other parents to immediately bring their children who are aged 6 years and older for vaccination. “Actually, it is understandable that some parents may worry about the effects of vaccines on their children. However, I believe that the benefits of vaccines for immunity are greater than the AEFIs that might be experienced. Moreover, children sometimes fail to pay attention to health protocols, while they need to join PTM as their rights. So, why don’t we get them vaccinated?” said Rika, as our conversation ended that day.

Esty Nuryaningsih: Vaccines Reduce Risk When Children Tested Positive

Another story about children vaccination comes from Esty Nuryaningsih or Esty as her friends and colleagues usually call her. She is an employee at a private television station, making her quite exposed to information about the vaccination agenda. When she first learned that there was vaccination for children aged 6 years and over, Esty immediately registered her youngest child, Mikail, who was 7 years old, to be vaccinated. Similar to Rika, Esty and her husband had previously provided their children with information about vaccinations and Covid-19 health protocols. “Children usually imitate the behaviour of adults. So, my husband and I agreed to educate our children about vaccination or health protocols by starting with ourselves. We always keep our distance from other people and wear masks, even if it's just to pick up packages in the front yard," she said. In addition, Esty and her husband also gave verbal knowledge using easy vocabulary so their children could understand. “Usually, I liken the vaccine to a hero. I told Mika, if Mika is vaccinated, there will be many heroes in Mika's body, so the virus will also lose to the heroes. But if you don't get vaccinated, your body will get sick because there are no heroes," said Esty.

Meanwhile, regarding the preparation for the vaccination of children, Esty admitted that there was nothing special. Reflecting on her experience of having a rather heavy AEFI due to staying up late, she only advised Mika to eat regularly and sleep enough. All of the knowledge and preparation of the vaccination proved to be effective. When it was his turn to be vaccinated, Mika wasn't afraid at all. The vaccination officer was also able to make the atmosphere comfortable, so Mika became more confident and excited. After vaccination, he also did not have a severe AEFI. Only his arm feels a bit sore for 2-3 days. But thankfully, it did not interfere with his activities.

Then, what convinced Esty to bring her children vaccinated? Despite the debates existing in society, Esty believes that the Covid-19 vaccine is indispensable as a form of self-protection in critical times. Moreover, at that time, Mika would soon undergo PTM. As a parent, Esty does not allow her children to join PTM if they have not yet been vaccinated. “Even though the children have been warned at home and at school, they may forget to follow health protocols while playing with their friends. With the child being vaccinated, at least I am more relieved because his body is more protected,” added Esty.

There is one interesting thing from the interview with Esty. He said that Mika had been confirmed positive for Covid-19, after he had been vaccinated twice. At first, it was Mika’s father who first tested positive for Covid-19 at home. Then, the next day all family members were tested by PCR. At that time, Mika's result was negative. However, they were all still self-isolating. Then, they did an Exit PCR test, Mika was declared positive. As a result, he continued to self-isolate for several days. Nevertheless, Mika did not feel any symptoms at all and was able to come back negative in five days. “I am very grateful that Mika had been vaccinated at that time, so that his recovery was fast and he had experienced no symptoms. Maybe it would be different if he had not been vaccinated,” said Esty.

From the stories that were told, we can conclude that vaccines are an essential protection, even when someone is infected with Covid-19 afterward. Vaccines cannot guarantee that the recipient will not be infected with Covid-19, but the protection provided by the vaccine may make the body more immune and reduce the chance of severe symptoms. It seems the benefits of this size should not be wasted. Therefore, Esty recommended parents out there to get their children vaccinated. "In the midst of a pandemic, registering children for vaccination can be a form of our affection as parents. Therefore, parents should immediately get their children vaccinated so that they become more immune to the virus and can carry out activities more comfortably. ”

The two stories of childhood vaccinations have opened our eyes to the fact that vaccination is not only a protection for the body, but also a part of children's rights. Vaccines are not only a matter of not being infected with Covid-19, but also about the other benefits they provide to protect the body from further effects. So, if you care enough and want the children in your family to be able to go to school and carry out activities more safely, please register them for vaccination. Vaccination registration can be done through the Jakarta Responding Covid-19 websiteor JAKI. Don't have the JAKI app yet? Don't worry, you can download it anytime on the  Google Play Storeor Apple App Store.

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