BENGALURU: While schools in the state are preparing for reopening in the first week of August and AIIMS chief Randeep Guleria announcing that India is likely to start vaccinating children by September, parents are a worried lot. Reason: Many paediatricians have suggested that parents should wait for more data to be released and not hurry with vaccinating children.
“Parents should wait for a safe, good, effective vaccine with convincing data,” feels Dr Jagadish Chinappa, Paediatric Cluster Head, Manipal Hospitals, who is also part of the 13-member high-level committee headed by renowned cardiologist Dr Devi Shetty, which is advising the state government on a possible third wave of Covid-19 infections.
As far as vaccinating children is concerned, there are two distinct lines of thinking in the medical fraternity. Dr Jagadish says one section of doctors argue that taking vaccines is important for three reasons — the significance of the disease, children can spread to older people and the longer you wait, the danger of more variants.
“The other section believes that it is better to wait. Reasons being inadequate trials, very benign in small children, we don’t know which vaccine is better. Right now, Zydus has submitted its data, but we have not seen it. The argument is that there is no clarity on which one is better,” Dr Jagadish said.
India’s drug regulator has not yet approved any vaccine for children. The Zydus Cadila and Pfizer vaccines mentioned by Guleria have not even received approval for use among adults in India. Vaccine approval may come by September, but rollout will be delayed,” says Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, Epidemiologist, public policy and health systems expert and lead co-author of ‘Till We Win: India’s Fight Against the Covid-19 Pandemic’.
He explains that “even with the opening of schools, it will be the choice of parents whether to continue online mode or send children to schools for a few offline classes as well.”
Number of Covid cases in children
o to 9 years 89,568
10 to 19 years 2,21,604
o to 9 years 63
10 to 19 years 90