'As fate would have it': 12-year-old Yusuf gets vaccinated on his birthday

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"As fate would have it, the 12+ vaccination drive launched on his 12th birthday"
"As fate would have it, the 12+ vaccination drive launched on his 12th birthday"

"We can hug!"

Muhammad Yusuf Ur Rehman celebrated turning twelve this week with one extra-special event - the first hug with his friends since Covid-19 protocols became the norm 19 months ago. This was thanks to the Covid-19 vaccination programme which opened to youngsters aged 12 to 17 on 20 October.

"As fate would have it, the 12+ vaccination drive launched on his 12th birthday, so he didn't waste the auspicious date and decided to go, as he has been super excited to get vaccinated," his proud mom Dr. Naseema Barday, tells Parent24. More than 39 000 children signed up on day 1 of registration.  

Dr. Barday, a general practitioner at a Cape Town Medicross practice, shares that she spoke to Kingsbury Hospital, in Cape Town, to ensure a walk-in was an option, and after hearing of his plans, Yusuf's cousins and his friends Cameron Faurholm and Arran Wade, who are in Grade 6 at Rondebosch Boys Prep School, decided to join him. 

She says any hesitancy on the children's part was quickly overcome in the momentum of the moment, and there was lots of enthusiasm and excitement. The children were very brave at the sight of the needles, but the nurses were equally excited to vaccinate the youngsters, and were gentle and kind.  

The kids were treated like VIPs, everyone sang Happy Birthday and the staff even brought cupcakes for the group, she says.

It was then that the children realised they could exchange a hi-five, for the first time in many months, and then suddenly it dawned on them that they could hug each other.

The little group immediately hugged, and celebrated the special moment together as their emotional parents looked on.  

'As fate would have it': 12-year-old Yusuf gets va

Yusuf celebrating his birthday and his Covid-19 vaccine at Kingsbury Hospital in Cape Town

Yusuf has two older siblings who are young doctors, one of his uncles is a doctor and his grandfather was a doctor, so "he's had a bad case of FOMO with the vaccinations," his mom says.

"Our entire family had Covid 15 months ago, and Yusuf feels getting vaccinated is the right thing to do," she says, adding that she herself was admitted for severe Covid and suffered some long term affects of the virus. 

Dr Barday stresses that her family and close friends are all very responsible and have followed Covid-19 protocols meticulously over the course of the pandemic. At one point Yusuf had expressed that he felt it was "not fair" that adults could be vaccinated while children had to wait.

She explains that her son's age group, 12 to 17, is the most mobile of the youth, with more social needs, which is a normal social requirement at their age, but they also carry the virus around.

This is why young people need to be protected, to protect those they come in to contact with, she says. 

"I have very strong feelings over the issue of vaccine advocacy, for both personal and professional reasons," Dr Barday says, adding that she hopes that her son's story may convince others to line up for their dose.

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