Govt has no clear inoculation plan for children
While the government has not proposed a system to vaccinate children, many parents fear their children will suffer side-effects from vaccination.
Preetha Shankar, mother of a seven-year-old, said: “I am not sure if I will get my child vaccinated against Covid. Even adults were initially hesitant to get vaccinated due to the sudden death of three relatives who had been vaccinated. I believe that if my child gets herd immunity, that would be better.”
Another parent, Reema Kumari, said: “My child already has a health issue. I fear his health might get worse after his vaccination; but if doctors insist, I will get him vaccinated.”
Neha Kumari, a mother, said: “If the doctors assure me the vaccine will not harm my child in the future, I will get him vaccinated; otherwise, I will not. The vaccine should be approved both by the government and doctors.”
Dr Aarthi Doss, a pediatrician, said Covid is a new disease that is still evolving.“There have been cases of people developing autism decades after vaccination against a certain disease. In the case of children, pediatricians have to look at the long-term effects as their lungs have low immunity…as compared to adults. Covid vaccination in India is still undergoing trials. In this case, we cannot say if vaccines like Corbevax are right for children.”
Explaining the long-term effects of Covid vaccination, she added: “Many adults died of cardiac arrest days after being vaccinated against Covid.We can’t be sure how the vaccines will react in a child’s body. This is the reason why so many people are anti-vaxxers. To vaccinate children, we need to perform tests.”
Dr HarshalNikam, a virologist, said no clinical trials for children’s Covid vaccination have been conducted.“Children are vulnerable to various Covid mutations.However, research is being carried on for the suitability of the vaccination and we are waiting for DCGI’s decision.”
The Observer went to meet Dr Rajni, Deputy Director (Immunization)at Arogya Soudha, but she was on leave.
In an interview with the Deccan Herald, virologist Dr Jacob T John said: “Countries like the UK have announced a children’s vaccination programme. But that has to be systematic, and India doesn’t have a system for this. Also, you have to use a vaccine that’s guaranteed safe. In Europe, one in 50 women below 65 years developed bleeding and clotting problems due to AstraZeneca (Covishield), and Europe stopped using it for women a long time ago. In India, we don’t know how many people have died due to vaccine-related complications. Covaxin has not caused any serious side-effects, but there’s no discussion about this. Why can’t Covaxin be given to children?”
In April 2022, Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said he would initiate a vaccination drive for children in the 6-12 age group.
According to the Covid-19 Information Portal, Karnataka has 1,977 active Covid cases with more than 40,000 fatalities so far.