Express Healthcare

Transparency key to vaccinate and protect children from COVID-19

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Dr Tushar Maniar, Head of Department Child Health, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai sheds light on the challenges of children vaccination and learning from other countries who have started it already

COVID-19 vaccination for children over 5 years has already begun in several Western, European and Middle Eastern countries, with some inoculating children above 5 years.

As per two recent studies released by Center for Disease Control (CDC), United States on vaccine safety for ages 5-11 years, it was found that children rarely experienced serious symptoms after being vaccinated and nearly all children, with severe COVID-19, were not fully vaccinated. Studies from the UK and other Middle Eastern countries have yielded similar results in relation to vaccine efficacy in the paediatric population.

The role of vaccination in substantially cutting down the morbidity, need for hospitalisation and mortality in paediatric patients is observed throughout the world till date. However, a major challenge in expanding paediatric vaccination programmes around the globe could be vaccine hesitancy among the parents. Even in countries such as the US, parents have expressed concerns about long term and short-term side effects of the vaccination. Most of these concerns can be addressed through effective and open dialogue between the policymakers, clinicians and parent bodies. Transparency will be a key if we wish to vaccinate and protect our children from COVID-19.

Moreover, parents shouldn’t panic but be alert and observe the post-vaccination side effects, which include minor fever, fatigue, drowsiness and pain at the injection site. The symptoms are expected to subside within 2-3 days and parents should contact the paediatricians in case they persist.

Though there has been a slight increase in the number of paediatric COVID cases, we are not expecting a substantial rise in severe paediatric COVID-19 infection in the near future. No evidence of such infections is found in any other region of the world with multiple waves of COVID-19 infection. However, considering the mutations and rapid spread of new variants, vaccination can play a pivotal role in preventing children from the risk of developing severe symptoms or aggressive treatment regimes.

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