Parents divided over children’s vaccination


With schools reopening, some fear their children may contract covid-19; some are scared there will be side-effects

With speculations over covid-19 third wave looming large and with schools reopening, vaccination for children has become a debatable topic. While some parents fear children contracting covid in schools, others are still hesitant about vaccinating their children with fear of side-effects.

Vaccinating children aged between 12-18 years (and even younger) is a major concern in most countries. “This is a global concern and it’s also relevant at a time when they are planning to reopen schools,” said Dr Ravindra Mehta, senior pulmonologist, Apollo Hospital, and member of the BBMP’s covid-19 task force committee.

The concern over vaccinating children is multi-dimensional. Dr Ravindra said, “There are chances of children spreading infection to each other while interacting with classmates and teachers. This apart, children might become carriers and spread it among family members.”

“Children’s vaccines have been looked at in other countries. Pfizer and Moderna are up for approval. Zydus is the first one to be approved. Trials on other vaccines are also going on. I think it is going to be a question of who the first player is and who comes behind. If we get Moderna or Pfizer, they may be able to augment the vaccination availability for that age group. Then, we will be able to get a larger population vaccinated. It is also a timeline that both Moderna and Pfizer take one month and Zydus’ timeline is two months.”

Dr Manohar K N, Consultant – Internal Medicine, Manipal Hospitals said, “Presently, only Zydus has been approved for children above 12 years. However, this is the first DNA-based vaccination, which is still new to us. Though we have speed-tracking approval for vaccination, the shots will only be administered by early next year. We need to keep Kerala and Maharashtra in our mind where cases are increasing before thinking of reopening schools as after the two neighbouring states, next will be us. We need to think of keeping children safe and protected.”

Vaccinating children is very important. Firstly for inherent protection, secondly for the community, and thirdly for parents and teachers

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–Dr Ravindra Mehta, senior pulmonologist

Dr Yogesh Kumar Gupta, Head of Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road said, “We are expecting the third wave, but we still do not know about the severity. There is no data to suggest that it is going to be specific to children. However, those who are not vaccinated and children are susceptible for covid infection and are at a higher risk of getting it. In order to curtail the third wave, it is crucial to vaccinate these individuals as early as possible. Once the vaccine is available for use, it is advisable for children above 12 years to get vaccinated. Every vaccine has some minor side-effects like fever, body pain and others. Once the data is out, we will find out if the vaccination will have other side-effects on children. Since the vaccine has been approved and recommended, we do not anticipate any major side-effects.”

He added that both government and private hospitals need to come together for inoculating children, once there is an approval. He said, “Nearly 43 per cent of India’s population are children, hence, a streamlined process must be administered at the earliest. Once the vaccine is made available, parents should not fear for their children as they will be administered after passing tests. Parents should, in fact, encourage their children to get vaccinated. Until the vaccines are available, children need to continue following the covid-appropriate behaviour.”

“Vaccinating children is very important. Firstly for inherent protection, secondly for the community, thirdly for parents and teachers. The State should put it in its think tank. Will have to look into the feasibility of expanding vaccination. The Zydus vaccine will take time to hit the ground. It may take months or more to be available. The State needs to decide which vaccine to be rolled out for children.” Dr Mehta added.



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Sagar Biswas

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