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Swift action to prioritise vaccinations for children post COVID-19 lockdown: Experts

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Delay of vaccine dose may impact timeline of subsequent doses, making child vulnerable to disease which they would be protected from, if vaccinated

India and the world today are confronted with an unprecedented global health exigency in the form of COVID-19. During these challenging times, as the lockdown continues, India will see a rise in delayed vaccination cases as a large number of children will be unvaccinated / partially vaccinated. While vaccinations are fundamental to one’s health and life, it is imperative to understand that delay in vaccination caused by the current lockdown due to COVID19 is unavoidable.

Delay of a vaccine dose may impact the timeline of the subsequent doses, making the child vulnerable to a disease which they would be protected from, if vaccinated. However, experts suggest delayed vaccination is manageable and not as life threatening as the current pandemic. Subsequent vaccine doses have permissible waiting period for interrupted or delayed immunisation as per the World Health Organisation (WHO). Dr Vijay Yewale, Head of the Institute of Child Health, Apollo Hospital, Mumbai, said, “Amidst COVID-19, new-born babies are being vaccinated with BCG, OPV 0 and Hepatitis-B at the maternity hospitals which takes care of the initial set of vaccinations. Additionally, we are getting calls from anxious parents on the scheduled immunisation. There have been guidelines issued by the WHO and Indian Academy of Paediatricians on vaccination during this COVID period. Parents are requested to take necessary precautions and be safe during the pandemic. Now that, the lockdown is extended, vaccinations can be scheduled in consultation with their family paediatricians. The set of primary vaccines such as DPT, polio, rotavirus vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine scheduled at week six, week 10 and week 14 of life are important and need to be given as so as possible. Similarly measles containing vaccine scheduled at nine months of age needs to be given as early as possible. It is also advisable to give flu vaccine.”

“Parents who are waiting to get their child immunised, need to follow proper hygiene habits to help reduce the possibility of infections and consume nutritional food,” added Dr Yewale.

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