Taking care of vulnerable kids first step to stave off third Covid wave

Express News Service
BENGALURU: In preparation for the predicted third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, experts have pointed out that the government should identify the vulnerable among children, and make arrangements for their protection on priority, including vaccinating them. 

The third wave is predicted to hit in September-October, and children are said to be largely affected as a majority of the adult population will be vaccinated by then. However, the vaccine for children — the Zydus Covid vaccine — is yet to get approval for use. Hence, experts say that vulnerable children need to be identified at the earliest, so they are vaccinated on priority when the vaccine is approved. 

Dr Srikanta J T, Consultant – Paediatric Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, Aster CMI Hospital and member of the Covid-19 task force, said, “Vulnerable paediatric population includes children who are overweight or obese, children with underlying medical conditions like diabetes, renal diseases, chronic lung issues, hematological conditions like sickle cell disease and neurological conditions.”

Non-government organisations work with these kids and maintain a database of the vulnerable group. If the government can access this data and vaccinate them on priority basis, it will mitigate the risk of these children contracting the dreaded disease. He said vulnerable children can also be given already available vaccines like the influenza shot, which is similar.

Dr Sayed Mujahid Husain, Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist, Good Will Children’s Clinic, Bengaluru, said the most susceptible group is kids who have underlying comorbidities like asthma, allergic rhinitis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney-related issues and other immunodeficiency disorders. 

“Parents must make sure that such vulnerable children are taken care of with utmost precautions, like ensuring they are on regular medication as prescribed, healthy nutrition, hygiene and regular health check-ups.” he said. 

Dr Srikanta stated that if there is a tailor-made vaccine for children aged up to 18, with good immunogenicity, efficacy and safety profile, then vaccinating them in a very short span of time will not only reduce their exposure to risk in the third wave, but also probably end the pandemic (if at least 70 per cent of adults are vaccinated).

Meanwhile, Dr Rakshay Shetty, Head, Paediatric Intensive Care Services, Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Marathahalli, said children less than one year and more than 12 years old, tend to be affected with severe forms of Covid.

“However, post-Covid complications, like Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) appears to affect healthy children, mostly above 5 years of age. It affects 1 in 50,000 children, and 2/3rd of them need ICU admission. If recognised early, they have good outcomes if treated correctly. The best way to keep children safe is to ensure that adults take vaccine shots. That will decrease circulation of the virus in the community. Everyone, including vaccinated adults, should continue wearing masks and follow physical distancing whenever possible, he said.