Why experts say there is no urgency to vaccinate children

As various pharmaceutical companies wait for approval of their vaccines to be administered to children, parents world over are waiting for their children to get inoculated. However, at this juncture health experts say there is no urgency to inoculate children as the trials are still on.

Earlier this year scientists in the United Kingdom recommended delaying COVID-19 vaccines for most young people under 16, citing the very low rates of serious disease in this age group. However, many countries like the United States and Isreal have already begun vaccinating children and many European countries will soon follow suit.

In UK experts have recommended that only those adolescents who are clinically vulnerable or who live with vulnerable adults should be vaccinated. Serious cases of COVID-19 and deaths related to it are rare among healthy adolescents and children.

Another view is that at a time when much of the world is still struggling to access COVID-19 vaccines, the question of whether to vaccinate children can feel like a privilege. 

What experts in India are saying

Vaccine expert Dr Gagandeep Kang says before administering vaccine to children below 12 years India needs to look into many unanswered questions.

Experts say that first it needs to be answered whether we use inactivated virus vaccines or should we wait for mRNA vaccines to inoculate children.

Dr K Srinath Reddy, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) President say there is no need to vaccinate children unless they are immunocompromised.

Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for children between the ages of 2-18 years has got emergency use approval (EUA) by an expert panel on October 12.

Experts say current evidence shows short-term safety after taking COVID-19 vaccines seems to be ensured. But long-term safety is yet to be known.

However, the long-term impact of mild COVID-19 on children is not yet clear and this could be one of the primary reasons behind vaccinating younger kids.

New literature for adults show that even mild coronavirus disease may lead to post-COVID syndromes in the adult population.

Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, former scientist at ICMR say that it is not yet known what is the impact of post-COVID side-effects on organs of children.

Hence experts in India suggest that it needs to look rationally and take a collective decision on whether to vaccinate its younger population or not.

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