BENGALURU: The slowing down of the vaccination drive for adults can lead to an increase in Covid-19 cases among children, fear experts. Doctors and public health experts say that the trend in infections is particularly high among younger adults. This will likely trigger an increase in cases among younger children in the near future if the vaccination rate is not increased, they say.
Dr C N Reddy, Professor, Paediatrics, Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, says serosurveys across many districts in Karnataka have shown that wherever the infected adult population is high, vaccination is low in all those places. “The number of cases of children being infected has also gone up. This suggests that children are most often infected by adults.”
Public health experts worry that the drop in the pace of the vaccination drive across all age groups, coupled with many not getting their second dose, can be a seri-ous concern.“Unvaccinated adults can bring home the infection and children with Covid-19 can develop a condition called Multisystem Inflammatory
Syndrome (MIS-C) in any part of the body, including the heart, lungs, kidney, brain, skin, eyes or other organs. Hence, it is better that the State Government looks at ensuring vaccine availability for adults even before thinking of vaccinating children,” suggests Dr Reddy.
According to Dr Sanjay Gururaj, Paediatrician, SHRC Hospitals in Jayanagar, compelling data on the impact of adult vaccination on children has been shown in many countries, the recent one being from Brazil’s state of Sao Paulo, where 98% adults were vaccinated and a striking reduction in Covid -19 cases and deaths was found even amongst children. Also, there was drop in symptomatic infections that occurred in unvaccinated children. “In that state of Brazil, like in India, there were arguments that the third wave may predominantly hit children as they are unvaccinated, but that didn’t happen,” he pointed out.
Interestingly, similar scenarios have played out in countries with high vaccination rates, such as Israel and the United States. Studies published in some medical journals have shown that the cases in children below 18 years of age fell by 84% after over half of the US population had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Infections in children have fallen as adults get their shots.
Public health experts say that an increased number of cases in one age group is likely to spill over into other age groups. A senior doctor and public health expert from Udupi said, “It is important for schools to open up, but the State Government should emphasise on adults at home and school being vaccinated.”