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A poster promotes Hong Kong’s Covid-19 inoculation programme outside a community centre on administering the BioNTech vaccine. Bookings for children aged 12 and above opened on June 10. Photo: Bloomberg

Letters | Hong Kong Covid vaccines: hear children’s voices on jabs and school

  • Communication between the government, schools and parents is important, but children are the most important stakeholders and must be properly heard
  • Children deserve accessible information to make an informed decision and should not be made to take the vaccine against their will
The government announced on June 10 its decision to lower the Covid-19 vaccination age limit to 12 years old. While we understand vaccination is important for the protection of children and the community, we believe youngsters should be properly informed and have their voices heard.
The authorities should use a child-centred and child-friendly approach in explaining the vaccination programme to them rather than imposing it against their wishes. Efforts to communicate with school authorities and parents are important, but children are the most important stakeholders in this issue and their voices must be properly heard.
Many children have told us they are worried about potential side effects, and they feel pressure from all sides including the school authorities, Education Bureau and sometimes their parents who want them to resume full-day school as soon as possible. They also asked why the government has said children are less likely to get infected but now are allowed to receive the jab. These doubts and queries must be attended to and properly communicated in a child-friendly way.

What you need to know about Hong Kong’s Covid-19 vaccination drive for children

Vaccination against Covid-19 has been a heated discussion in our community for months, but children’s voices have been excluded. We urge the government to promptly take the following actions.

Provide child-friendly information on the vaccine, including its protection rate, possible side effects, the vaccination process and what to do after inoculation for both children and their parents. Arrange channels where children can directly pose their questions to health experts to ease their minds.

Education is a right for every child. This is clearly laid out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. No child should be deprived of school education because of their health situation.

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Children with rare or chronic illnesses should have the situation properly explained to them. The discussion about percentage of vaccinated students in a school as a condition for resuming full-day, face-to-face classes has put our children in a difficult position. This must be handled cautiously.

Children have the right to freely express their views on matters of their concern. For this reason, the Convention states that children should be provided a chance to be heard in the administrative process, such as the case now in Hong Kong.

Children and parents should be given accessible information to help them make an informed decision. Children should not be forced to receive the vaccine against their will.

Billy Wong, executive secretary, Hong Kong Committee on Children’s Rights