While severe Covid infections in children are rare, some of them could end up in hospital and develop complications like respiratory failure, kidney failure, inflammation of the heart, formation of blood clots, and other such problems. Experts are of the view that routine immunisation can play a key role in preventing severe symptoms of Covid-19 in children. According to latest studies, routine immunisations can not only protect children from serious and life-threatening infectious vaccine preventable diseases, but also aid in boosting their immunity against Covid-19. (Also read: Routine immunisations may ease severe Covid in kids: MAMC study)
Children below the age of 15, who have received their routine childhood vaccinations, are less likely to get severe Covid-19 symptoms, a study by Delhi’s Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) said.
Routine immunisation improves the immunity of the children against vaccine preventable diseases. Vaccination with BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin), vaccine against poliomyelitis, MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) protect against these disease as well boost the immunity against Covid 19 as has been shown by certain studies from Sweeden, France, Iraq as well as India.
“The studies have shown that the severity of Covid-19 disease was lesser in the fully vaccinated children as compared to the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated population. The MMR vaccine has been shown to provide some cross protection, against Covid-19, as seen in animal studies as well as published data from countries like Sweeden, France, Iraq and India. At our institution, we have also seen a similar trend. The children who were fully vaccinated had a milder course of disease and the children who landed up in the ICU were mostly partially vaccinated. Hence, vaccination of the children should be made mandatory for protection against the vaccine preventable diseases as well as Covid-19,” says Dr Monalisa Sahi, Consultant Infectious Diseases, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad.
Amid Covid-19 pandemic, many children missed their routine immunization according to The Lancet.
“A decline in the number of administered doses of diphtheria–pertussis–tetanus-containing vaccine (DTP3) and first dose of measles-containing vaccine (MCV1) in the first half of 2020 was noted. The lowest number of vaccine doses administered was observed in April, 2020, when 33% fewer DTP3 doses were administered globally, ranging from 9% in the WHO African region to 57% in the South-East Asia region. Recovery of vaccinations began by June, 2020, and continued into late 2020,” said a report published in the medical journal.
What happens when children miss their mandatory vaccines
Missed vaccinations allow children to become vulnerable to preventable diseases. It is crucial to administer vaccines as per the recommended schedules for each and every child, to keep infectious diseases at bay.
“If a child’s vaccination dosage has been delayed or interrupted, the schedule can be resumed without repeating previous doses. Parents are advised to keep their children’s vaccination records up-to-date and are encouraged to ensure their children receive scheduled vaccinations whenever possible,” says Deepak Kapur, Chairperson, Rotary International’s India National Polio Plus Committee (RI-INPPC).