India and the rest of the world is facing a health emergency in the form of the pandemic, COVID-19 and it is disrupting this life-saving vaccination process around the world and putting millions of children’s health on risk. Vaccination plays such an important role in a child’s health and life as they are safer substitute for a child’s first exposure to a disease.
How important it is to get vaccination?
From birth, we are constantly exposed to various bacteria, virus and other microbes, though some of these are helpful for the body but few proved to be harmful. And exposure to any such harmful microbes creates infection which helps the body to build lifelong immunity. So, the aim of vaccination is to gain this immunity without causing any risks of having the disease again.
Hence, immunization plays such a critical role in child’s life and health as they are usually at high risk of infection in their building years because of developing immune system. So, it becomes significant for children to get vaccination done at its scheduled time to avoid being infected by preventable diseases, as medical sciences has made a great progress in terms of vaccination for diseases which has killed thousands of people like polio, measles, smallpox.
What kind of health problems might occur due to delayed vaccination?
When children are not administered vaccinations to the scheduled time, they are not only vulnerable to the preventable disease but it also increases their risk of never fully completing the vaccination course. Due to this failure of timely vaccination, it results in resurgence of curable disease and even can cause various chronic diseases which might hamper the development of the kid. So, it becomes crucial to get your child vaccinated at the recommended scheduled time but in these unprecedented times, where hospitals and clinics at a bigger risk for kids and toddlers. So, maintain adequate hygiene, nutritious diets and take necessary precautions.
For how long can the certain vaccinations be delayed?
“Vaccines can be broadly classified into three major segments according to how essential they are in the wake of this global pandemic outbreak. The absolutely necessary Primary vaccines; BCG, OPV and Hepatitis-B, are given before the child is released from hospital and these cannot be delayed beyond a time frame. The vaccines like triple antigen, polio and rotavirus are due in periodic intervals over the few months and they too cannot be delayed further. Rotavirus and flu vaccine has to be given before 7 months as post seven months it doesn’t help. The vaccines for lungs and respiratory tract– for protection against pneumonia and influenza should also be made priority as weak lungs can make a child vulnerable to COVID-19.” Said Jaydeep Choudhary, a pediatrician associated with the Institute of Child Health.
“The vaccines for water-borne diseases, like typhoid and hepatitis, can wait for a while,” said Choudhury, Chairperson of the infectious diseases chapter of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP)
What are the precautions that should be taken while visiting a hospital or clinic in an unavoidable scenario?
Where ever possible, avoid taking your kids to hospitals and clinics. But if there is some unavoidable situation and you have to visit a hospital or clinic, keep these safety guidelines in mind-
- Book appointment online and ensure that there is no rush in the waiting area.
- Make sure that baby and your mouth is covered with mask as these are the only first line defense available to fight against Corona virus.
- Reduce the contact with doorknobs, lift buttons, tabletops or any other such surfaces.
- Avoid touching your face and nose with your hands as much as possible. Carry alcohol-based sanitizer and frequently use that.
- Do not let your child touch any waiting area modifications like toys, magazines or newspapers.
- Maintain social distance and at least keep a distance of 3 feet with people and especially from those who are sneezing or coughing.
Experts and various organizations have warned that delayed immunization can lead to real fears of other diseases. The World Health Organization released the following statement:
“Immunization is an essential health service which may be affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Disruption of immunisation services, even for brief periods, will result in increased numbers of susceptible individuals and raise the likelihood of outbreak-prone vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) such as measles.”
Having said, we totally understand that due to COVID-19 and this lengthy affair of lockdown the delay in your child’s vaccination is totally unavoidable and it’s impossible to get vaccination done before the scheduled time as well. Therefore, it is advisable to not panic as WHO has released guidelines for delayed immunization and doctors are following it. So, be assured, take extra precautions and stay in constant contact with your Paedtrician as he will guide you in terms to administer the vaccine and will inform the dates likewise.