Exclusive: Need to amp up vaccination in kids to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 - Experts
"Vaccination in children should be ramped up for them to achieve immunity, to break the chain of infection, and also to achieve herd immunity," says Dr Farah Ingale.
New Delhi: During the third wave of COVID-19 in India, we have witnessed a rise in the novel coronavirus cases among children. Opening up about the ordeal of her 11-month-old baby Sufi testing positive for COVID, Bade Acche Lagte Hain actor Nakuul Mehta’s wife wrote on Instagram, “While most of you may know that my husband tested positive 2 weeks ago, I also got the symptoms a couple of days later. I thought not attending my sister’s wedding was the worse that covid could do to me, not realizing that what I was about to experience in the coming week were to be the hardest days of my life, yet. Sufi started developing fever a day after I tested positive and it refused to come down in spite of water sponges and medication”.
Similarly, actors Kishwer Merchant and Aditi Malik’s babies also contracted the virus during the third wave - which is mostly dominated by the Omicron variant. While all three of them have recovered, we got in touch with experts to understand the reason behind the rise in COVID-19 cases among the kids.
KIDS SHOULD BE VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19
“Yes, more kids are getting infected with Omicron, as Omicron is highly transmissible and infectious though less virulent. And kids we know do not follow COVID-19 appropriate behavior and also till now, the kids have not been vaccinated. Hence they don’t have vaccine-induced immunity and are more prone to infection,” says Dr Farah Ingale, Director-Internal Medicine, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital Vashi.
India began vaccinating adolescents in the age group of 15 to 18 years from January 3. However, kids younger than that haven’t started receiving vaccines in the country yet.
“Vaccination in children should be ramped up for them to achieve immunity, to break the chain of infection, and also to achieve herd immunity,” says Dr Ingale.
Dr Ingale also explained why fully vaccinated people are testing COVID positive and what it tells us about the vaccine's efficacy against the virus. “No COVID-19 vaccine is 100 percent proactive and preventive. But yes they help in preventing ICU admissions and death, meaning vaccinated people can catch COVID19 but it passes out as mild infections. Completely vaccinated people will not become serious unless because of other comorbidities. Protection derived from the vaccine is about 70 to 90 percent”.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD GETS COVID-19
While it is vital to consult a doctor if your child tests COVID positive, Dr Yogesh Kumar Gupta, Head of Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru says most of the pediatric population has shown mild symptoms like fever, vomiting, and headache, which seem to be self-limiting after a few days.
He however warns that kids with co-morbidities are always at risk of developing severe diseases.
Giving three simple tips to parents who are looking after COVID-positive kids at home, he says, “maintain a fever monitoring chart, always keep the child adequately hydrated and feed them healthy food”.
Talking specifically about infants, Dr Yogesh advises, “Mothers should continue breastfeeding their infants”.