Vaccine for kids: What’s the hurry, ask experts

Vaccination should be prioritised among children with comorbidities and chronic diseases, who are more likely to get complications due to the infection, according to experts.

Published: 18th October 2021 03:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th October 2021 03:01 AM   |  A+A-

Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19 disease are ready at a new vaccination center in Paris.

Representational Image (File Photo | AP)

Express News Service

KOCHI: The recommendation by an expert panel to use Covaxin for children has set off heated discussions on whether vaccination is required at all for children, as they are unlikely to develop severe complications due to Covid, unlike adults. The big question is whether we should vaccinate extremely healthy children.

According to experts, vaccination should be prioritised among children with comorbidities and chronic diseases, who are more likely to get complications due to the infection. In Kerala, the paediatric Covid mortality is only 0.008% and therefore some experts believe that there is no need for a mass vaccination drive among children now. Though schools are set to reopen soon, doctors are of the opinion that there is no need for any rush in vaccinating healthy children below the age of 18 years due to the vaccine’s short-term benefits and lack of enough studies on the efficacy.

“More studies are required regarding the vaccination of children. Only risk-based immunisation should be conducted as of now. Those children with chronic illnesses, including kidney and liver diseases or with immunodeficiency disorders, should be vaccinated on a priority basis. Even those staying with others having these complications should be prioritised for vaccination. We are not witnessing complications or an alarming rise of Covid cases among children. With this vaccine, we are only expecting immunity for one year. For those children who are completely healthy, vaccination should be slow,” said Dr Rekha Zacharias, consultant paediatrician based in Kochi.  

“The incidence of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (Mis-C) is also very less. Only a small percentage is affected in the state. Vaccination is not a solution in preventing Mis-C. Adults are more likely to develop complications than young children,” said Dr Rekha, who is also an officer-bearer of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics.

Age is the most significant risk factor for Covid complications, and most of the children affected were those with comorbid conditions. “Adult vaccination is the priority. It has been noted that vaccination plays only a small role in preventing infection. It reduces the complications and severity of the infection —which is very rare among healthy children,” said Dr Suma Balan, a paediatrician based in Kochi.  

“Many vaccine-related complications, including myocarditis and thrombosis, were not revealed in Phase-3 trials. They were found in Phase 4 trials where millions of people were involved. Paediatric vaccines are not yet tried in large numbers yet. There the possibility of rare complications cannot be excluded. Therefore it is always better to take it slow,” said an immunologist based in Thiruvananthapuram.


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