Vaccine for kids has been a topic of debate for a long time now and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech being approved by the expert panel for emergency use is the first ray of hope for parents to keep children safe from the anticipated third Covid-19 wave. Though not yet approved by the Drugs Controller General of India, this jab has raised expectations among the public. ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila, which is the first DNA vaccine to be utilised in the world to prevent the infection, has also cleared phase 2 trials for kids above 12 years of age.
News18 reached out to Dr Srikanta JT, paediatrics and interventional pulmonology consultant at the Aster CMI Hospital in Bengaluru to clear some doubts that parents may have now.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
Is it the right time to vaccinate kids or should we wait?
Covaxin is an inactivated viral component. Hence, even though the data is not completely published and peer-reviewed, it utilises the same technology that has been used to manufacture most vaccines given to children. It seems to be safe for now. However, it is recommended that the parents wait for a few more days until substantial data is out.
What is the quantity of doses to be given?
Children will be given half the proportion of what adults get — a dose of 0.5 ml will be given to kids compared to 1 ml in adults. It will be an intramuscular injection like other vaccines. Two jabs will be given within four weeks (28 days after the first dose).
Does vaccination to kids mean we have won the pandemic?
The severity of infection has been lesser in the pediatric population compared to adults. But kids are a vulnerable group and can be super spreaders if infected. Also, there is a high risk of multiple mutations when spread to a larger community. Hence to avoid further waves of infection, vaccination seems to be the best and only effective way for now.
We have at least 25-30 percent of the paediatric population out of 140 billion people in India and Karnataka alone has 1.7 crore of the population under 18 years of age. This is crucial for them to be vaccinated to prevent themselves from the infection as well as from the third wave. Also, this will help in the prevention of many post-Covid complications in children such as MISC.
Will children suffer from post-vaccination effects? If yes, what are they?
Just like most paediatric vaccines, fever, body ache and sometimes pain at the site of injection are reasonably common. But nothing serious than this should happen. When the vaccine is doing well, these minor side effects are acceptable.
Covaxin is still not accepted in several places yet, so what are the other options for kids?
As the technology used to produce Covaxin has a proven safety record, it seems to be safe. But enough data is not been made public yet, hence it’s hard to say. But this vaccine seems to be the safest bet in the present scenario. And with regard to alternate options, Covishield is still under trial. Pfizer, there have been concerns about myocarditis post 2nd dose of vaccine, but has the largest safety data. (Not yet approved in India for pediatric use). And ZyCoV-D is the new kid on the block, so need to wait for more data to come to any conclusion.