Let’s vaccinate the young people

As we near the 18-month mark since the start of lockdown, I’m coming to terms with the restrictions on my liberties, but I’m concerned about the youth who are missing out on their childhoods and proper schooling.

For the past year and half, as we’ve been pretty much jailed in our homes and our provinces, we have been promised that life will get better if we wash our hands, sanitise, and wear face masks.

We have been promised that life will get back to normal once we be the jab. But we are facing a number of challenges, among them the relatively slow roll-out of vaccines and the reluctance of some people to be vaccinated.

In the meantime, many people have lost their jobs and young people’s futures are being compromised.

During the third wave of infections, it was reported that the Delta variant had killed more young people than other strains had, particularly in the 15- to 35-year-old age group.

Surely we should therefore be focusing on getting as many young people vaccinated as possible?

While President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that 18- to 34-year-olds will be vaccinated from September 1, I feel like we have cruelly stagnated our children’s development by prioritising older people in the vaccine rollout. We are like leaders who stay at home while their troops are at war.

The youth are the future, so surely we should prioritise getting them vaccinated so that they can get their childhoods back and their dreams back on track?

While it is good to teach them to wash their hands and live healthy lives, we also need to free them from the shackles of coronavirus. So why not vaccinate them and let them get back to school?

Mark my words, by March next year, we will still be scrambling to protect ourselves against Covid-19. We will still be burying our loved ones, leaving young people to fend for themselves as they will have lost their parents.

While I have continued to work from the office during the pandemic, my work takes me to the townships, and my experience has been that there is terrible fear, and a desperation for life to get back to normal.

And I too have been hopeful that it would. I believed that God would not let his people continue to die like flies. But unfortunately they have.

But for how long are we going to have alert levels dictate the pace of lives, what we’re allowed to do or not do?

While the restrictions may have helped “flatten curve”, many people who are expected to adhere to them are in the same situation they were in pre-Covid, maybe even worse. They are poor. They do not have food. Faeces flows through the streets of their communities. They do not have running water – but are expected to wash their hands regularly.

These are people who have to relieve themselves in the bush when nature calls.

And when they are finally free of coronavirus, they will still need to be freed from so much more.

Let’s give our children the chance to escape this life by getting them vaccinated and preparing for the future.