Start corona vaccination for kids fast, say experts – ET HealthWorld

PUNE: Child specialists and paediatric task force experts have urged the Union government to expedite the process of starting children’s vaccination against Covid-19, considering how Omicron — the new variant of concern — is affecting below five-year-old kids in countries like South Africa.

“There is a need for starting paediatric vaccination early. While children, by and large, have only a mild disease themselves, a small number of them may get sick enough to require hospitalisation, as has been seen in South Africa lately. The vaccination can mitigate the severity of disease in children so that they can be managed at home, and this will prevent a load on the health services,” said child specialist Dr Pramod Jog, also a task force member.

The Union government is planning to start kids’ Covid vaccination by the end of December or early January. “Children being unvaccinated and those with comorbidities are susceptible to Covid-19. Also, they may have mild disease, but can act as a reservoir to infect adults and senior citizens at home, who may have worse consequences, and increased morbidity and mortality,” Jog said.

Kids had shown a seroprevalence of antibodies around 70% without vaccination, but if the new emerging variants had immune escape mechanisms to cause infection in them, it could only be reduced by vaccination, he added.

Mumbai’s Dr Rahul Pandit, director (critical care), Fortis Hospitals, also a member of the national and the state Covid-19 taskforce, said, “With the new variant Omicron impacting kids in South Africa, we should practice utmost caution.”

Dr Pandit said, “At this juncture, there is no need to panic. Be cautious when engaging in festivities and do not drop your guard.”

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