Covid vaccination for children: Is it safe ?

July 22, 2021 11:52 AM

Several vaccines have been made available for Covid-19 that are safe and effective and prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying

“The approvals from the DCGI will encourage us to move forward and produce the Covid-19 vaccine to meet the country's vaccination needs. These approvals will help support subsequent filings with the World Health Organisation as well,” Bio E MD Mahima Datla.“The approvals from the DCGI will encourage us to move forward and produce the Covid-19 vaccine to meet the country's vaccination needs. These approvals will help support subsequent filings with the World Health Organisation as well,” Bio E MD Mahima Datla.

By Dr. Shrinivas Tambe,

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, several countries work together with the World Health Organization (WHO) to control the spread of the disease — tracking the pandemic, advising on critical interventions, distributing vital medical supplies to those in need— they are racing to develop and deploy safe and effective vaccines.

Each year millions of lives are saved due to vaccines. They train the immune system to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. After vaccination, if the body comes across those disease-causing germs, the body is ready to fight the illness on first attempt thereby limiting the illness and bringing out speedy recovery of the individual. Several vaccines have been made available for Covid-19 that are safe and effective and prevent people from getting seriously ill or dying. Although no vaccine is 100% protective, the approved vaccines provide a high degree of protection.

Who should go for vaccination?

The Covid-19 vaccines have been tested and found to be safe for most people 18 years and older, including those with pre-existing conditions, including auto-immune disorders. These conditions include: hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver and kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled.

The disease is found to be milder in children and adolescents as compared to adults, so it is less urgent to vaccinate them unless they are part of a group at higher risk of severe Covid-19. We need to have more evidence for use of the different Covid-19 vaccines in children to be able to make general recommendations on vaccinating children against COVID-19. However, WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has concluded that the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine is safe for use by people aged 12 years and above. Further it goes on to say that children in the age group of 12 to 15 years who are at high risk may be offered this vaccine alongside other priority groups for vaccination.

Global Scenario

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have given permission for emergency use authorization for Covid-19 Pfizer vaccines in the age group of 12 – 15 years. This determined that clinical trials show this vaccine to be safe and effective for kids in this age range. In the months ahead, COVID-19 vaccines for younger kids ages 2 and up may become available after necessary safety and efficacy testing in the said age group.

Is there a need to vaccinate children?

Coronavirus rarely affects children seriously, even in developed countries like the UK children are not being vaccinated unless those at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes. Although the vaccines are very safe, but the risk and the benefit need to be carefully weighed.

Covid-19 infection is usually milder in children than adults, however, some kids can get very sick and have complications or long-lasting symptoms that affect their health and well-being. Moreover, children like adults can transmit the infection to others even in absence of symptoms. The vaccine against coronavirus protects against this potential harm to the child and others, including family members and friends who may be susceptible.

One other reason to consider the jab for your child is to protect the health of the broader community. Every time the virus infects a child or adult it has a chance to mutate and create a mutant that might be more dangerous or resistant to the available vaccines and therapies. Fewer overall infections provide less chance of dangerous coronavirus variants and thereby help to control the pandemic.

(The author is Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Jupiter Hospital, Pune. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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