Is Your Baby Missing Vaccines Amid The Pandemic?

by | July 7, 2021, 10:59 IST

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Vaccines prompt your child’s immune system to develop antibodies; they work by imitating the infection they are meant to prevent so that the antibodies can then fight the disease itself. The vaccines timeline is usually spaced out in the time between birth and five years of age. Some of these might also be given as a combination vaccine so that the child gets fewer shots.

Don’t Let The Pandemic Lead To Postponement

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Your paediatrician will help you understand the vaccines your child requires at different times. Getting your child vaccinated on time will help protect them against almost seven vaccine-preventable diseases. If your child misses a dose or gets behind schedule, make sure you keep your healthcare provider informed about the delay and take advice. “Vaccines protect children from various vaccine-preventable diseases such as BCG, polio, pertussis, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), diphtheria, the streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium that could cause pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis, chickenpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid,” says Dr Santosh T Soans, former president of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, and currently associated with Practo. “Any disruption in the vaccination routine, even for a short period, will result in accumulation of susceptible individuals.” He also warns that there is a likelihood of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases and related fatalities post the COVID-19 pandemic and urges parents with young children to stick to their vaccination routine.

Play Catch-Up - As Soon As Possible

The advisory committee on vaccines and immunisation practices of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (ACVIP) recommends that all routine vaccinations be administered as scheduled, as it is an essential health activity. The benefits of immunisations far outweigh the associated risks. “As doctors, we don’t recommend skipping the vaccine even during the COVID pandemic,” says paediatrician and general physician Dr Praveen Gupta. “If a child has missed the vaccine, parents should try to get the missed dose administered as soon as possible.” He adds that missed vaccines put society at an increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. “Catch-up vaccination must be availed of. There is a window period in which the vaccines can be given, and, once given, they would have similar efficacy in the future,” he assures.

Get Back On Schedule

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Each country has its own immunisation schedule. “The initial Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) in India was limited to Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), diphtheria, tetanus toxoids, whole-cell pertussis (DTwP), oral poliomyelitis, and typhoid vaccines, which are chiefly covered in urban areas,” recalls Dr Benny Benjamin, Senior Consultant Pediatrician and Neonatologist with Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai. He adds that the Universal Immunisation Programmes (UIP), introduced in 1985, improved immunisation coverage and extended the focus beyond infancy. “Some states introduced the hepatitis B vaccine, pentavalent vaccine (Haemophilus influenzae [b-HiB], Hepatitis B with DTwP) and pneumococcal vaccine,” he reveals.

Dr Benjamin also states that the Indian government updates and refines the vaccination programme from time to time. “One needs to keep track of the mandatory vaccines listed by the respective state governments and take those basic vaccines – no excuses!” he says, adding, “Other vaccines are optional and can be taken or not, depending on the child’s well-being.”

Dr Praveen Gupta, Paediatrician And General Physician, Answers Common Questions Regarding Child Vaccinations

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1. Is my child at increased risk of getting infected with SARS-CoV-2 by the hospital or clinic visit for immunisation?
If SMS (social distancing, mask, sanitisation) is strictly followed, and the recommended COVID-19 related norms are observed in the immunisation session, the risk is minimal.

2. Does any risk arise from immunising a child during the pandemic?
There is no documented risk to immunising a well child during the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID-19 is still an evolving disease, we need to monitor strictly for any increased adverse events following immunisation (AEFI).

3. Is there a risk if we vaccinate a child during the incubation period of COVID-19?
Currently, there is no evidence that there is any risk to the vaccine if vaccination is done during the incubation period of COVID-19. The efficacy and safety of the administered vaccines would be the same.

4. Does vaccination increase a child’s risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 or of developing COVID-19?
In general, vaccination against one disease does not weaken the immune response to another disease. As of now, there is no evidence that vaccination would increase the risk of a child becoming infected with COVID-19, or affect the course of the disease in a child who has been inadvertently vaccinated during the asymptomatic phase or incubation period.

5. What should be done if certain due vaccines are missed?
This is a common situation in the COVID-19 pandemic. Be assured that the vaccination schedule can be resumed without any need to restart the series. Multiple vaccines in one sitting and using the minimum permitted interval between two doses of the same inactivated vaccine can be practised to complete the schedule in the shortest possible time.

Also Read: 5 Most Common Behaviour Disorders In Children & Ways To Deal With Them
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