The ongoing corona pandemic has changed the world. It has affected everyone’s life. Social movements are restricted. Many businesses have had negative impact, leading to hampering livelihood of innumerable families. Schools, colleges and recreation centers are closed. After a long drawn battle the world has understood that the only way out of this deadly disease is vaccinationof the population at large.It has taught us that if there is a vaccine available for a disease, we should get ourselves and our children vaccinated. Failing this the disease spreads and creates havoc. For example measles, pneumonia, tuberculosis and other diseases remain a constant risk. We are fortunate to have the protection of vaccines against these diseases.
The vaccines are biological tools which comprise of inactivated disease causing organism or its derived component. This triggers the immune system of the recipient to form protective antibodies against that particular organism. This is stored as memory, and protects him / her to fight the infection whenever there is exposure to that organism.
During the SARS Co19 pandemic, especially during the second wave from April 2021, the COVID infection had spread like fire. Parents are scared of taking their children for vaccinations because of the fear of contracting COVID infection. In addition the lockdowns at various points in time has led to drop in Paediatric vaccination. Missing out on child’s vaccination makes them vulnerable to many life threating diseases and can have fatal outcome. Many of the diseases like rotavirus infection, hepatitis A , flu, typhoid, though preventable through timely vaccination, maylinger onimpacting the child’s immunity and negatively affect their development.It needs to be emphasized here, that children need to be protected from contracting Corona infection, but not at the cost of missing their routine vaccinations. For whatever reason, if the vaccination is postponed it should never be missed.
WHO and UNICEF have also noted drastic drop in Paediatric vaccinations since 2020. This drop is maximum since past 28 years .They have warned that the “avoidable suffering and death caused by children missing out on routine immunizations could be far greater than COVID-19 itself “. WHO has recommended that vaccines can be delivered safely even during the pandemic, to ensure these essential life-saving programmes continue.
Basic vaccinations needed to be given to newborns and children:
* BCG (for tuberculosis)
* Measles Mumps and Rubella
* Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
* Polio (oral and injectable)
* Haemophilus Influenzae
* Chicken pox
The vaccinations need doses spaced out at a fixed time interval to be given to infants and toddlers. This enables them to produce the desired levels of antibodies for disease prevention. Likewise the young children and adolescents need booster doses of the vaccinations .It is advisable to follow the recommended vaccination chart for child’s safety against vaccine preventable diseases.
The second wave of COVID has affected children of all ages. The COVID infection in children is usually mild .It manifests as fever, flu like symptoms or diarrhea. The recovery is also good. During these times if children miss out on the routine vaccinations, they become vulnerable to those diseases. This in turn lowers their immunity and increases their risk of contracting COVID infection.
Guidelines to be followed for vaccination visits to enable safety from SARS-CoV- 2 virus infection:
Vaccination should be planned in advance. Always take a prior appointment for the vaccination.
If the child has fever, or Corona like symptoms, inform your doctor, your visit must be postponed.
Ideally only one parent should accompany the child for vaccination. Grandparents or siblings should never accompany the child for the vaccination visit. This reduces their chances of exposure of the COVID 19 virus.
Wear the mask, snugly covering the nose, mouth and the chin. Masks with valves are to be strictly avoided.
Precautions should be taken while touching common things, like staircase railings, door handles, lift buttons, chairs and tabletops.
Avoid use of public toilets. But if you must, follow strict toilet and hand hygiene precautions.