With the government set to rollout vaccination for children in the 15-18 age group from January 3, doctors have welcomed the move saying only vaccination can mitigate Covid-19 risk fully at a time when the country is witnessing a spike in new infections and faces the threat from Omicron.
After more than a year and half, educational institutions have reopened for physical classes, and school going children would be eager to indulge with their peers. On meeting their dear buddies after a long gap, children would like to unshackle the restrictions that were imposed on them. And possible risks due to this can only be addressed through vaccination, say the healthcare practitioners.
“We have noticed that educational institutions, especially schools and junior colleges have time and again turned into Covid-19 transmission hotspots. This is due to unregulated sitting arrangements and mixing of children with their peers without strict implementation of fundamental Covid-19 protection protocols like wearing of masks, hand sanitising, and physical distancing. While the risk of virus spreading among these groups is increasing faster, the simple means to mitigate this risk is vaccination,” said Dr. Pradeep Panigrahi, Medical Director, SLG Hospitals.
“India has fast reached the stage of self-sufficiency for Covid-19 vaccines. Millions of adults have already been vaccinated with near cent per cent efficacy. We doctors are confident these vaccines will be effective on children as well. While Covaxin is being made available to vaccinate children, other vaccines too might soon be made available,” added Dr. Kanchan S. Channawar, Consultant Paediatrician, Kamineni Hospitals.
Dr. Markandeyulu, Senior Consultant Paediatrician, Aware Gleneagles Global Hospitals described as welcome move the decision by the government to allow vaccination for teenagers (children between 15 years and 18 years). “Government network and Private hospitals must ensure the vaccination drive which is to start in the first week of January. Parents too must avoid overcrowding at vaccination centers, and this will help families stay safe in the times when the new variant of Covid-19 virus is spreading fast,” he said.
“India and the World might be nearing the end stage of Covid-19 pandemic! Though the new variant Omicron, is said to be spreading faster than all its previous variants, it is important people do not panic at this stage. Most children have better immunity than adults, and vaccination will make them all safe,” concluded Dr. Ravi Gajula, Consultant Pediatrician, Suncity Hospitals.
Covaxin, manufactured by Bharat Biotech, has already been approved by Indian drug regulator to be administered on children in their teenage years. This vaccine is believed to be formulated uniquely, and the dosage to adults and children will remain the same. Country hopes more vaccines will pass the test and be made available for children too.