Things you Need to Know Before Heading for Covid Vaccination for Children in India

Children Vaccination in Whitefield

Covid-19, after its first appearance in 2019 in China has swept across the globe bringing about waves of fear, panic, death and debility. As we brace for another wave of Covid-19 following the identification of a new variant (Omicron), the Indian government have decided to vaccinate children above 15yrs of age. At present vaccination is our only armor against the fight against COVID-19.

How does covid-19 affect children?

As we commonly come across queries like “Does covid-19 affect children?”, “What is the severity of Covid -19 in children?”, “If it does not affect children why should we vaccinate them?” I think the following facts will clear some uncertainties relating to Covid-19 infection in children.

  • Continue research in the pediatric age group showed underreporting of COVID in children due to asymptomatic and milder symptoms yet they are a potential sources of transmission. A recent study in INDIA following the 2nd wave due to the Delta variant showed children to be equally seropositive as their adult counterparts. 

  • The Spectrum of Covid manifestation in children varies from asymptomatic, mild respiratory ailments to severe multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). MIS-C is a potentially life-threatening condition, that appears a few weeks following Covid exposure.

  • Closure of school, isolation and social distancing has led to disruption in emotional, behavioural, developmental and social skill. 

  • Children in India form a huge demographic portion of society and we cannot overlook the threat imposed by this constantly changing virus.

Covid vaccination will help to reduce the severe symptoms, break the chain of transmission and help our little ones to attend the societal goals without fear and apprehension.

What are the vaccines available for children in INDIA?

The government of India announced covid-19 vaccination for children of age 15-18yrs from January 3, 2022.

At present two vaccines were authorized by drug controller general India (DCGI) to be given to children above 12yrs of age. Both Caovaxin(Bharat biotech), Zycov-D(Zydus cadila) has got the nod for emergency use in children above 12yrs.  But for now, government directives are to vaccinate children of 15-18yrs of age.

Few other vaccines are still waiting in line for their authorization to be used in children in INDIA like Covovax(serum institute), US-made Moderna, Johnson and Johnson.

Manipal Hospital is one of the best paediatric or child speciality hospitals in Bangalore, having a top paediatrician in Whitefield, Bangalore who are experts in dealing with children. Consult today with our experts for Children vaccination in Whitefield.

Is it safe to vaccinate my child?

Yes, Vaccine undergoes multiple phase trials to assure safety and efficacy in children where data on adverse effects, clinical immunogenicity, effectiveness etc. were collected and analyzed.

  • Available data on safety from Pfizer, Mordena, Covaxin trials showed minor adverse effects in children like any other vaccination. 

  • Having said that there have been few reports of severe adverse effects like heart issues, anaphylactic reaction, blood clots, and inflammatory syndromes following vaccination. But such incidents are rare and the benefit of vaccination outweighs the risk in such groups.

  • Long Term Data on vaccine safety and efficacy is not available at present as most of the study trials in children have started in 2020.

What do we know about Covid -19 vaccines available for children?

  • COMIRNATY(Pfizer/BioNTec): mRNA vaccine BNT162b2Recent research showed good efficacy and safety in 5-11yrs and 12-17yrs age group, Low dose (10ug) 2 shots 3 weeks apart in 5-11yrs. Emergency use authorization in the US is approved but not available in INDIA.

  • Covaxin: Inactivated Covid-19 vaccine. Currently under Phase II/III trial for age group 2-6yrs, 6-12yrs, 12-18yrs( estimated completion date Jan 2022). Emergency use approved in INDIA for 12-18yrs age group by DCGI.

  • Moderna: mRNA 1273 vaccine. Currently undergoing phase II/III trial in 6-11yrs (estimated time of completion by 2023), 12-17yrs age group (estimated time of completion June 2022). Granted by Indian drug controller but still not available.

  • ZyCoV-D: first Plasmid DNA vaccine authorized in INDIA for emergency use above 12yrs. Administered through needle-free applicator (Pharmajet) for 3 doses 28days apart.

Other vaccines like Covishield, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik-V /Light, Covovax etc. are all undergoing clinical trials in different age groups of children.

What are the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccination?

  • Side effects are somewhat vaccine-specific but some symptoms are common to most of the vaccines like Injection site pain/swelling, Nausea, dizziness, fatigue, body ache, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting. These symptoms are usually mild and resolve in 48hrs.

  • Some serious side effects relative to a few specific vaccines have been reported like Myocarditis following mRNA vaccine, Demyelinating disease (GBS), Clotting/thrombotic event following recombinant adenovirus Vaccine(Covishield) but no causal relationship has been established between the vaccine and such events.

Do they still need to wear masks after vaccination?

Yes, children should follow all covid appropriate behaviour as before. Long term effects of vaccine efficacy and protection are still under research.

What is covid appropriate behaviour?

  • Clean hands: frequent cleaning of hands with soap and water, use of alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Respiratory etiquettes: sneezing and coughing into the elbow.
  • Use of mask: proper size mask covering both nose and mouth. Do not touch the outside of their mask.
  • Physical distancing: avoiding crowded and small closed spaces with people and other children and maintaining social distancing while communicating

Can children get Covid-19 infection after vaccination?

Since no Covid vaccine is 100% effective, some covid-19 cases following full vaccination are possible. But such breakthrough Covid-19 disease is usually less severe and far less frequent compared to disease in Unvaccinated children.

Conclusion

Vaccination in children and adolescents will bridge the demographic gap in vaccine coverage and help to block virus transmission and severe disease. It will also help to reduce the anxiety and apprehension surrounding school opening, social contact and outdoor activity for the child.

 

Dr. MD. Nawad Azam

Specialist - Paediatrics & Child Care

Manipal Hospital, Whitefield, Bangalore

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