New Delhi: As schools reopen in most parts of India, vaccination of children will become a significant issue in the coming days. Taking this into consideration, The Sunday Guardian spoke to several experts in the medical fraternity to understand the safety profiles of the upcoming vaccines.
Regarding the usage of vaccines, Dr Rajeev Kaul, Professor in the Department of Microbiology, University of Delhi, said, “Bharat Biotech has recently submitted data to Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) regarding Covaxin trial in children of 2 years age and above. This data shows positive recommendations indicating that Covaxin is safe in children. Both Pfizer and Moderna have also declared that their vaccine is safe in children aged 6 to 11. These trials have shown that fatigue, headache, fever and pain at the site of injection were common side effects of the vaccine in children, as has been the case in adults. Therefore, it can be concluded that the safety profile of these vaccines in children is favourable.”
Similarly, an in-charge of Rural Health Training Centre, Jagannath Gupta Institute of Medical Sciences and Hospital, Kolkata, Dr Debayan Mallik, shared the same view. He said, “The vaccines are safe to be used on children. Trials have shown very optimistic results based on which the Indian Council of Medical Research has approved the use of Covaxin in children between 2 years to 18 years. It is advised to get the school going children vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available.”
However, many parents are still reluctant to go for vaccination. Dr Mitesh Patel from the Government Eye Hospital, BJ Medical College and Civil Hospital, Campus, Ahmedabad, said that most of parents need to be motivated in various ways. Vaccinating children against various diseases was present before Covid. Also, the clinical trials of vaccines have proved to be safe for children. It has been said that Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Zydus Cadila’s ZyCov-D may get the license for vaccinating children in India soon.
However, the trials have some mild to minimal aftereffects which is a common phenomenon, for instance, fatigue, headache, fever and pain may be witnessed as some of the common aftereffects. “As the Covid has been significantly less devastating in children compared to adults, there is a good possibility that serious aftereffects of vaccination, if any in children, may also be much rarer and less severe than in adults. Whether there will be any serious aftereffects in vaccinated children, however rare they may be, it can only be determined after data from large scale trials will be analysed,” Dr Kaul told this newspaper. Also, Dr Mallik said that one must wait for 30 minutes after the vaccination.
After a thorough and transparent evaluation of data, the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized the use of Pfizer vaccine for 5-11 years. According to several reports, countries such as the US have administered the first dose of Pfizer for the younger age group of 5-11 years. Similarly, UK Chief medical officers have also recommended a single dose of Pfizer for 12-15 years. China became the first country to allow some children from 3-17 years for the Sinovac against Covid. The vaccine has also been approved in Chile for children from 6 years old. In Europe, countries such as Denmark and Spain have started vaccinating children from the age group of 12-15 years and 12 to 19 years. Also, France has started vaccinating adolescents from the age group of 12-17 years. In Norway, the rollout of vaccination for children (12-15 years) has been extended.