Uniting under the Kajjansi-based Ugandan Chapter of the Social Change Global Association, these parents led by Collins Tugumisirize want the local rights-defending body to declare the impending mass vaccination exercise in schools a violation of their children’s rights.
“As concerned parents, this is to appeal to the chairperson who is also a mother, to advocate against the mandatory vaccination of children using Covid vaccines,” in part reads the petition signed by over 400 parents across the entire country and addressed to the chairperson of the UHRC on May 23, 2022.
In their petition, these parents also express skepticism over the effectiveness of the Covid vaccine saying it “offers no immunization benefits” to their healthy children.
The parents also claim that apart from the questionable safety of the Covid vaccine, the looming vaccination exercise is in breach of several health-related laws of this country — including the Immunization Act of 2017.
“The immunization act 2017 does not permit vaccinating children for any other purpose other than “immunization” purposes… whereas the Covid-19 is not mentioned among the diseases for immunization of children, the ministry of health has already publicly confirmed that Covid vaccines are not for immunization purposes. “…The Covid vaccines have not yet been approved for safety and are being disseminated on trial/experimental basis for emergency purposes.”
The vaccine skeptics/anti-vaxxers argue that based on the above grounds, parents should be sensitized about the known risks and seeking consent without prejudice and without mandating any form of punishment for non-compliance.
Deadlock in Gov’t
The parents’ petition comes at a time when the ministries of Health and Education are at loggerheads over vaccination of children.
As the ministry of education calls for vaccination of school children after parental consent, the health ministry is adamant that the same vaccination will go on with or without their consent.
In fact, in their letter to UHRC, the petitioners accuse the ministry of health of having already gone ahead to vaccinate their children without seeking permission from parents.
“The Ministry of Health started vaccinating children for Covid during the first term in several schools in the western and central regions without parental consent and without warning the children or their parents of the potential risks, side effects… Last week the ministry of health announced on UBC TV plans to resume similar vaccination without parental sensitizations of the side effects and for no immunization benefits to children participating in the medical experiment,” the petition stated. The parents however, took exception to the fact that the government is even mooting a proposal to fuse vaccination together with immunization so that vaccines like the one for Covid can be covered. This, the petitioners argue, is being done even when research world over has shown that children are not vulnerable to succumb to Covid like it is with adults. The petitioners thus want to meet the UHRC Chairperson, Ms. Mariam Wangadya, to explain their concerns.
Commenting on the matter, UHRC boss Wangadya revealed that she had received the petition and would meet the petitioners to listen to their concerns. She noted that the petition is a proof that more and more Ugandans are becoming aware of their rights, which she attributed to the Commission’s continuous engagement with the general public.
“Health rights demand that children at that age get vaccinated after parental consent and I’m very pleased that these very many parents know that right; this awareness is what we always strive to attain for Ugandans as a commission,” she said. She revealed that she had granted the petitioners a meeting next Tuesday so that the commission can listen to, and examine their issues.
“I have since learnt that government has decided that school children will not be immunized without parental consent. We therefore pray that this position is upheld so that every child’s right is protected. I’m sure we shall have very fruitful deliberations,” she said.
The Ministry of Health recently announced that it will commence the vaccination of children in schools in august this year, with children aged between 5 and 17, the targets for the Covid-19 jabs. The ministry’s announcement, however, drew mixed reactions from the general public, with several parents and experts advising against the move on account that children are not as vulnerable to Covid as adults. In this regard, the minister for education Janet Museveni, in a press conference at State House in Nakasero recently, assured parents that no child will be vaccinated without parental consent. She then advised the Ministry of Health not to make Covid vaccination for children compulsory, saying such a decision should be left to parents.
“When parents feel free to take their children for Covid-19 vaccination, they do it. If they don’t want to vaccinate their children, nobody will force them. It is not compulsory. I do not know where you got that information that it was compulsory,” she said.
But despite her guidance, Dr. Alfred Driwale, the Programme Director of Uganda Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI), said the ministry of health had already finalised the plans to roll out vaccination of children with or without their parents’ consent.
This stance later sucked in Members of parliament, who echoed the First Lady’s communication. Dr. Timothy Batuwa, the shadow minister for health, said there is no need to vaccinate children since their immunity is strong.
“We understand that the purpose of Covid vaccination is to reduce the severity of the diseases to protect one from transiting from mild to severe disease but children do not transit from mild to severe disease,” Dr. Batuwa said. The vaccine skeptics’ position was supported by US virologist and immunologist, Dr. Robert Malone’s caution that the Covid vaccines may pose a great health risk for humans for many years to come.
Dr. Malone warned that the greatest danger of these vaccines is that once the damage has been caused by the vaccines, they are irreversible.
“Before you inject your child, a decision that is irreversible, there are three main issues that parents need to know before they take this irrevocable decision. The first is that the viral gene will be injected into the parent cells, this gene forces your child’s body to make toxic spike proteins, these proteins often cause permanent damage in children’s critical organs like the brain and nervous system, the heart and blood vessels, the reproductive system, and most importantly, these vaccines can trigger fundamental changes in their immune system,” he said.
He added that the other concern is that since the Covid-19 are new given that the disease is also new, the effectiveness of the doses need to be qualified after like five years.
“This noble technology has not been tested. It needs at least five years before we can really understand the risks associated with this technology. The harms and risks become revealed many years later,” he further warned.
The anti-vaxxers are also supported by statistics that show that children have an almost negligible chance of dying of Covid-19, at just 0.003%. this is unlike adults whose changes range between 0.02 (for those aged between 20-49 years and 0.5% for those aged between 50-69 years. The most risk falls on those aged above 70 years with their probability of death is 5.4%.