‘Despite fewer cases, children must be vaccinated’

Monika Yadav New Delhi | Updated on October 17, 2021

Being a vulnerable group, they have to be immunised to reduce Covid transmission: experts

As the schools and sports centres re-open, health experts support the Health Ministry’s focus on vaccinating children against Covid. Although there is no cumulative data and estimates vary, the incidence of Covid-19 among children is between 5-10 per cent of the total Covid-19 cases reported in hospitals.

Experts believe this remains a vulnerable group and should, therefore, be vaccinated.

“Children are a vulnerable group and if the vaccine safety data is strong enough and we immunise them, it will have a big impact in reducing the transmission of Covid-19. Since the Covid vaccination is at the trial stage, we need to see that we vaccinate them so that the severity of the infection comes down even in case they end up contracting Covid. About 9-10 per cent of total cases are seen in kids, it is very important to vaccinate them,” said Syed Hasan, HOD pediatrics, Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka.

Inflammatory syndrome

“Globally, 32 per cent of the total population is less than 18 years of age. Though they constitute less than 5 per cent of total hospitalisations due to Covid-19, it can pose a serious problem which is being recognised now, including multi-system inflammatory syndrome. Hence it is essential to vaccinate every child against Covid-19 as we move towards the control of a once-in-a-century pandemic,” said Suresh Kumar Panugati, Lead Consultant - Paediatric Critical Care and Paediatrics, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad. “Conducting vaccine trials in children is a huge task as it involves major ethical considerations. Children are not mini-adults; they have differences in metabolic and immunologic responses. Historically, children tolerate vaccines well and immunogenicity is way above adults,” Panugati further added.

Krishan Chugh, Director and HOD Paediatrics, Fortis Memorial Research Institute said clearance of Covaxin by the expert committee is indeed good news.

“A quick roll out of the vaccine for all children above 2 years should be the aim so that the required two doses can be completed in the shortest possible time. This shall open the gates for children to move out of home for play, interact with peers and go to school. Of course this will have to be done in a graded manner,” he added.

“Children have been the silent sufferers. Although the number of children who had Covid was less compared to adults, their staying locked up has taken a huge toll on their behavioural, psychological and mental health - something that has received less attention than it should have,” Chugh added.

‘Awaiting clearance’

The Subject Expert Committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) has recommended Covaxin for those aged between 2-18 years but is yet to be approved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). Meanwhile, Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D for those aged above 12 years has got the approval from DCGI but is yet to be included in the Government’s vaccination campaign.

Published on October 17, 2021

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