Yaroslava Zolotko:
“I was told that I committed a crime against my daughter by vaccinating her against COVID-19”

In late October, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine allowed children over 12 years of age to get vaccinated against coronavirus for medical reasons and at the request of their parents. On the eve of the publication of these recommendations, Yaroslava Zolotko, a journalist, teacher of PR and communications courses, who actively supports vaccination in Ukraine and the possibility of distance learning for schoolchildren, has vaccinated her 12-year-old daughter.

Yaroslav, how did you decide to vaccinate your daughter? You know, not every adult will get vaccinated.

My whole family was vaccinated, and as soon as the opportunity arose, we decided to vaccinate the child as well. In the spring, a close relative died from the coronavirus. I also suffered this virus, albeit mildly, but I still feel the consequences – from loss of scent to chronic headache.

I took the fact that many European countries and Israel, and the United States have been vaccinating schoolchildren from 12 years old for a long time. A vaccine is also being tested for children over five years of age. Life expectancy in these countries is significantly longer than in Ukraine, and the standard of living and medicine is higher.

On your Facebook page, you wrote that it is almost impossible to vaccinate a child in Ukraine, but you were lucky. Please tell us more about it.

Children under 18 were officially vaccinated only for medical reasons during the first vaccination. The government’s position was: we vaccinate teachers – we protect children. But how does vaccinating one adult help protect 36 children in the same class? So I started looking for how to protect my child.

First, we turned to our family doctor at the state district polyclinic with a request to give our daughter a referral for vaccination. But the doctor flatly refused. She only said that she had not given such a referral to anyone yet and did not see any evidence for us. I began to look for where to get vaccinated because I read on social networks that some private clinics and doctors agree to vaccinate teenagers at the request of their parents. An absolutely unfamiliar woman wrote to me on Facebook, who suggested that I go to the private clinic “100% of Life”.

Having called there, I was pleasantly surprised – they told us to come, and they added that everything was free. My daughter and I went at the appointed time for a consultation with a pediatrician – we measured the temperature, looked at the throat, and listened with a phonendoscope. Then we were sent to the vaccination office for the vaccination – Pfizer. This is the only drug that is allowed to vaccinate minors in Ukraine.

With us in line were the mothers with teenagers in the same situation. I was lucky – because, at that time, they had not yet vaccinated children under 18 years old in-state polyclinics at the request of their parents. The indication for vaccination was only a detailed list of diseases and travel abroad.

Weren’t you afraid? Because the main argument of “anti-vaccinators” is that the vaccine is experimental and not studied sufficiently.

Yes, this is a new vaccine. It is poorly studied, but the coronavirus is also a new virus, and we do not know what the consequences will be in 5 or 10 years for those who get sick. Not to mention how many antibiotics and hormones (which are also not good for the body) a person is forced to “consume” if they are in a hospital in serious condition.

My relatives are all vaccinated and understand that this is additional protection for the child. And I heard a lot from acquaintances and strangers: from “Your daughter will remain sterile” to “You have committed a crime by vaccinating a child.”

I understand perfectly well: vaccination does not guarantee that people will not get sick. But the risk of getting ill and having a severe course of the disease is significantly reduced.

As of today, your daughter has already had an entire course of vaccination. How did she survive the vaccinations? Were there any adverse reactions?

After the first shot, there was only shoulder pain. After the second – slight dullness, and that’s it, there were no severe side effects.

What would you say to parents who have doubts about the need to vaccinate their children against COVID-19?

Many people say: “Why do you trust the vaccine? Because you do not know what is in it, perhaps it will harm your health.” Yes, I don’t know what is in the vaccine, just as I don’t know what is in the sausages we eat or the juice we drink. And, perhaps, after a certain number of years, the vaccine will somehow affect all of us. But I know for sure that COVID-19 is killing and is doing it right now. During the pandemic, the virus took the lives of more than 81 thousand Ukrainians.

Additional Information:

Country’s Position on COVID-19 Vaccination of Children

By order of the Ministry of Health of 13.10.2021 No. 2234 in Ukraine, it was recommended to vaccinate children 12-17 years old against COVID-19, who are not at risk of severe COVID-19, but only if they have all the mandatory routine vaccinations.

Given vaccines’ available safety and efficacy data, Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine is recommended for children 12 years of age and older. This vaccine is applied for them according to the same scheme as for adults – two doses of 0.3 ml with an interval of 21-28 days.

To vaccinate a child aged 12 years and older against coronavirus disease, this child, his parents, or caretakers must provide the doctor who vaccinates with documents confirming that the child has all routine vaccinations according to the National Vaccination Schedule.

Can children be vaccinated against COVID-19? What does the research say?

A study was conducted with Pfizer-vaccine in the United States. More than 2,000 children aged 12 to 15 took part in it. It is a placebo-controlled study: one group of children received the vaccine, the other received a placebo. Scientists wanted to understand what is the effectiveness of the drug for this age group and what side reactions might occur. The results of this study, published in May 2021, showed 0 cases of coronavirus infection in the group of vaccinated children. And among the unvaccinated – 16 cases of the disease. It is the difference, an essential difference. The conclusion is reliable: vaccines are effective.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of mid-October 2021, the Pfizer vaccine is 93% effective against adolescents aged 12-18 who are hospitalized. Pfizer-BioNTech’s Comirnaty vaccine is approved for use in children 12 years of age and older in most countries using the drug, such as the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, EU countries, etc.

Olga Bula spoke

 Photo: personal archive of the heroine 

A series of materials created supported by UNAIDS