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India Begins COVID Vaccination Of 15-18-Year-Olds, Experts Clear Doubts

India rolled-out the COVID vaccination for children aged between 15 and 18 years on January 3 amid a surge in the COVID-19 cases in various parts of the country, experts answer some common queries with regards to vaccinating children

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India Begins COVID Vaccination Of 15-18-Year-Olds, Experts Clear Doubts
In India, only Covaxin, indigenously developed COVID vaccine is available for children aged 15-18
Highlights
  • Over 40 lakh children received the vaccine on day 1: Union Health Minister
  • Children don't have a choice to choose between COVID-19 vaccines
  • By February 10 a significant number of children would be vaccinated: Expert

New Delhi: “I was scared of taking the vaccine because of possible side-effects but I didn’t get any fever. I have a mild ache in my arm. The vaccination process was smooth. I just have pain in my hand. I think now parents will be reassured to send their children to school once they reopen because earlier when my schools opened, not many came”, said Siya Kashyap, a student of class 10 who got her first dose of COVID vaccine on Monday (January 3). India rolled-out the COVID-19 vaccination for children aged between 15 and 18 years starting January 3 amid a surge in the COVID-19 cases in various parts of the country.

Also Read: COVID-19: Vaccination For 15-18 Age Group Starts Today Amid Covid Surge

“Well done Young India! Over 40 lakhs between 15-18 age group received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on the 1st day of vaccination drive for children, till 8 PM. This is another feather in the cap of India’s vaccination drive,” Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted on Monday night.

Show Your Trust And Faith In The Process And Take The Vaccine: Dr Nihar Parekh, Paediatrician

Child health specialists expressed gratitude for the opening up of COVID vaccination for children and also urged parents to get their child vaccinated. Talking to NDTV about the same, Dr Nihar Parekh, Paediatrician and Director, Cheers Child Care, Mumbai, said a lot of research has gone into developing and rolling-out a COVID vaccine for children. He added,

The vaccine was delayed for a reason. They (government and scientists) have studied and understood the process and trends in the disease and finally came out with guidelines. If the government is ready to give the vaccines, we should show our trust and faith in their process and take it.

In Pics: India Rolls Out COVID-19 Vaccination For 15-18-Year-Olds

Currently, only Covaxin, indigenously-developed by Bharat Biotech, is available for children which means there is no option to choose between vaccines. Dr Parekh recommends people take what is available instead of being choosy about what is available and what is not.

Resonating with Dr Parekh, Dr Rajeev Seth, Senior Paediatrician from Delhi said vaccination of children from 15-18 age group is a big relief for families at a time when students are going to school for board exams. He added,

COVID-19 disease has been milder in children so far, but with the new wave we don’t know how this is going to pan out. Some protection is needed and I am very delighted that the government has launched the vaccination programme for children aged 15-18.

In addition to this, Dr Hemant P Thacker, Member, Maharashtra COIVD Task Force believes that since the gap between two doses of Covaxin is 28 days and the number of people in the age group 15-18 small and eager, vaccination can proceed rapidly. He added,

By February 10, we would have a significant amount of the child population vaccinated. If we have to take a leaf out of South Africa’s book where the Omicron came, it saw and disappeared, we too should be out of the omicron wave by mid-February.

Also Read: New Variant ‘IHU’ Identified In France, May Have 46 Mutations

Can A Child Who Recently Got TT Booster Dose Take Covaxin?

When asked if a child who received a booster dose of TT (Tetanus Toxoid) in the recent past can take the COVID vaccine without any gap, Dr Seth said, there is absolutely no contraindication. He urged parents to get their children vaccinated as and when they get a slot.

Should The Second Dose Potentially Be Of Another Vaccine Because Of The Nature Of Omicron?

Dr Jesal Sheth, Senior Consultant and Paediatrician at Fortis Hospital in Mumbai, said,

Right now, everything is speculation. We don’t have any scientific data so as a Paediatrician, I would like to wait to hear the evidence.

Should Children Take COVID Vaccine Soon After A Viral?

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. The symptoms of Omicron are often as mild as sore throat or cough for some people that it can be confused with a regular viral infection. In such a scenario, should a child get vaccinated or wait to recover? Answering the same, Dr Parekh said,

The standard protocol which applies to all kinds of vaccination is that if the child has a fever, significant cough and cold, you delay the vaccine and the same should be followed in the case of COVID vaccination. If your child has a fever for two to three days, cough and cold, there is a high possibility of the child suffering from the Omicron which often behaves like a normal viral. Let the child recover since the severity of the disease is very minor. The child can take the COVID vaccine seven to 10 days after full recovery.

Also Read: Amid Covid Surge, Delhi Ups Restrictions

Can Children With Autism Or Down Syndrome Take COVID Vaccine?

Dr Parekh said children with Down syndrome are always partially immune-compromised with underlying heart disorders or immunity disabilities so they have always been on the first list when we vaccinate children on a priority basis at a younger age group.

Children with disabilities, protein allergy, malnutrition, immune deficiencies, and those who have co-morbidities like chronic lung disease, asthma, diabetes or heart disease are at high risk and should be mobilised to get vaccinated. No contradiction for any children of any disability of any kind, said Dr Seth.

Also Read: COVID-19: WHO Chief Scientist Calls For An Urgent Ramping Up Of Teleconsultation Services To Tackle The Third Wave In India

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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