Exclusive – One Melbourne families story on vaccinating teens.

Covid 19 is a highly contagious virus currently closing off the world to one another and infecting adults, teens, and children alike. Equitable distribution of equipment and medicines to fight COVID-19 is the only way out of the global crisis, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said back in July, in remarks to a meeting of the advisory group making the case for investing in these tools. 

The delta variant is far more contagious than earlier strains of the virus and delta has increased the transmission of cases amongst children and teens. Recorded cases of children and statistics show the only way to reduce the transmission is to get vaccinated, but many parents are hesitant to do so.

Should I consider getting my child vaccinated for COVID-19?

Melbourne My Style speaks exclusively to the Kuran family of Melbourne’s outer East as to why they decided to have all three daughters vaccinated.

Interview with Justine Kuran (mother).

Please tell us a little about the Kuran’s & how many members are in the family?              

Bernie 61 – Semi-retired

Justine 52 – Artist

Plus 3 daughters –

  1. Marley 19 Currently doing administration duties after leaving University post VCE 2020.
  2. Shaini 18 studying and working through the KFC Gap Year program
  3. Peri 18 Apprentice hairdresser

And Mo the Groodle.

Can you tell us why you believe Vaccination to Covid 19 is important to yourself and your family?

There is 18 months’ worth of reasons why we decided to get vaccinated, but ultimately, we want ours and everyone’s lives back to normal and believe that ‘herd immunity through vaccination is the only way to that end goal.  We saw firsthand the terrible toll that lockdown had on our kids, most specifically Marley, who did VCE in 2020. She and her cohort missed out and continue to miss out on so many milestone events, graduation balls (families were unable to attend), gap years, travelling, university orientations, and on-campus socialising and learning.

What motivated you to be vaccinated and was there a discussion about which vaccine would be best for yourselves?

I had a health scare which included a bout of pneumonia, in 2019, about 3 months before covid hit. I was on high alert long before it seemed other people were taking it seriously.  I was really scared.  I followed closely the development of vaccines and despite some initial resistance, I was excited to have the jab,

I read, listened to, and spoke to professionals about which vaccine we should have.  I admit to feeling some resistance to Pfizer because it was based on newer science than the AZ which is a traditional vaccine.  My doctor assured me that, while my concerns were valid and considered, the most important thing was to get whatever was available, particularly as the Delta strain was so virulent and affecting children, unlike the earlier Covid 19 strain.

As it turned out, we were all only eligible for the AstraZeneca at the time we booked our vaccinations.

What motivated you to speak to your 3 daughters about Covid 19 Vaccine?

With all three of my girls in the service industry and all at an age where they want nothing more than to go to pubs and nightclubs with their friends, it was a no-brainer.  Getting out of this pandemic is the responsibility of all of us.  For 18 months (on and off) we were asked to do nothing but stay home, wear a mask, and wash our hands.  That feeling of helplessness was crippling. The mental health toll on my kids was devastating. Not being able to see our friends and extended family was lonely. Not being able to go to restaurants and galleries felt like I was living in a cultural wasteland, and the financial blow to my friends in the hospitality, events, and entertainment industries was gut-wrenching.  Then… we are given a lifeline and we are told that there IS something we can all do to play our part in the recovery – of COURSE, we wanted to do it.

Most kids have parents, grandparents, and friends, who, for whatever reason are unable to get the vaccine.  We are doing it for those people as much as for ourselves.  Even more importantly, our teenagers have so far lost 18 months of what should be the best years of their lives. They should be breaking rules and testing boundaries, instead, they are ruled and locked down to within an inch of their lives.

As a parent the early lockdown gave me some peace of mind, I didn’t have to worry about what my kids were doing, who they are with, and where they were, but the longer this drags on, the more I realise, I want to be worrying because it means they are living their lives. 

This current situation isn’t living for them. Nothing has caused me more pain than imagining what my girls and their friends are missing out on. If that’s not a good enough reason to get the kids vaccinated, I just can’t imagine what is.

Have your girls been vaccinated now? What were their feelings involved in this process?

YES, and I am incredibly proud of them!  They have all had their first AZ vaccination.  We had them speak to a doctor they trusted, and we sat down with them and discussed the risks versus the rewards.  We really focussed on the bigger picture, and how it would affect their broader community, not just them. I would be lying if I said they jumped at the chance to get the vax.  They wanted to wait for their friends to have it too, to which we had the most parental reply – ‘Are you waiting for your friends to get Covid too?’ 

Most kids their age get their medical advice from Tik-Tok, so based on what they were seeing and hearing, they wanted to wait until Pfizer was available.  It was a battle, but one that they ultimately felt good about.  I can see their pride when they tell anyone they have been vaccinated, and they use all the reasons we gave them for doing it. 

They were some of the first of their friends to get vaccinated, so it’s been fantastic to see them able to answer questions from their friends and encouraging them to get the jab as well. 

Full disclosure – Bernie and I both had sore arms for a few days after our vaccination.  The girls, on the other hand, also had sore arms, but they also had overnight fevers and sweats. Fortunately, it was nothing 3-4 hourly Panadol didn’t fix, and they were fine within 24 hours.

Do you believe in mandatory vaccinations?

Absolutely not.  I do however believe that, like everything in life, there are consequences for all our choices, so I am all in for vaccination passports.   If we are still in and out of lockdowns in another 12 months, I believe it will be because not enough people are getting the vaccine. I also think that if we don’t vaccinate and just let this virus run rampant, we run the risk of our hospitals and our dedicated healthcare workers being overrun. I couldn’t bear to see us reach a stage when doctors are being forced to choose who to save because there just aren’t enough ICU beds and ventilators for everyone.

What would you like to say to those that are unsure about having our young teens vaccinated?

Far be it for me to give advice on anything medical, I’m just giving my own opinion here (for whatever it’s worth), and if Covid has taught us anything, it’s that opinions are not facts.  So, the only advice I have (because you asked) is to do your own research and for the parents and the kids to speak to a trusted doctor before making any decisions. 

Did you have any reservations or second thoughts about vaccinating your daughters?

We had reservations in the early days of Covid. Like many, I was worried about a ‘new’ vaccine, but when the Delta strain hit and it seemed like we were never going to get out of lockdowns, I realised I had to make it my mission to find out as much as I could.  Education is power.  Of course, no parent wants to take risks with their child’s health, but we weighed it against the risks of the damage to their mental health, and any other medication they may take, and realised that the rewards were greater. 

Now we are seeing almost all patients hospitalized with Covid have not been vaccinated. Numbers don’t lie.  I know we will be able to rest easier.

For our family, it ultimately had to come down to risk versus reward.  And science.

Interview by Melinda Sullivan with Justine Kuran.

Images supplied