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    How Prepared Is India For Children’s Covid Vaccination

     Rinda Angom

    The government is paying attention to the immunization of children and working on the process of rolling out. Even if it is approved for vaccinating children, the main question remains how safe vaccination is going to be. Nonetheless, governments and healthcare departments are making efforts to roll out with safety concerns.

    Children Vaccination Status

    According to VK Paul, the chief of the Covid task force, the final decision regarding vaccination below 18-years in India will be taken on the basis of “overall scientific rationale”. Though it is still not possible to give a particular timeline for starting Covid vaccination for children, Zydus Cadila preparation for vaccinating children is progressing well. Zydus Healthcare’s Covid-19 vaccine, ZyCoV has been tested on 12 years and above and it is a needle-free Covid-19 vaccine. It has received emergency-use authorisation from the Drugs Controller General of India as well. 

    However, co-morbidity will be the deciding factor for children’s eligibility to take the jab. The list of comorbidities will be specified for children as done in the case of adults. Co-morbidities may likely include health-related conditions like lung-related ailments, congenital heart diseases, types of cancers etc. Children who have undergone an organ transplant will also be taken into priority. The vaccination guidelines will give us a clear picture as a whole. 

    As for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, according to Union Health Minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, the national drugs regulators are still analysing Covaxin data before granting it for emergency use in children. He also said the analysis is not just based on local data but also on the global trend related to dealing with children.   

    Preparation for children’s vaccination

    Delhi has also got its first children-friendly vaccination centre. It has been given the look and feels that can make the children less fearful of injection. The wall of the vaccination centre is also painted with cartoons like Motu Patlu, Disney characters etc. The centre will also have toys and musical items in the post-vaccination room. Dr Sameer Bhati, Director of Star Imaging and Path Labs said it is to keep the children engaged.

    Madhya Pradesh too has one established with parks and equipped with toys. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan took to Twitter and congratulated Jabalpur City and its health department for the initiative.

    Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group said they will be extending Covid vaccines completely free of cost to children with comorbidities. The list of co-morbidities is also prepared by the group after consulting with the government. The list may include children with haematological, neurological, cardiac, liver, gastrointestinal, cancer, respiratory, rheumatic, genitourinary and developmental disorders.

    The healthcare centres are prepping well but it will have to wait for the safety protocols to be established. We will have to see whether the government is going to give it to municipal hospitals or give it to institutes like they had set up during the adult covid immunization or give it to the private paediatrician. We are happy about the active process going on to vaccinate our children but we should be careful about it at the same time and follow the guidelines strictly once it’s out.

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