Children are our most important asset and the Indian Government has stated that it has developed a comprehensive plan for immunising over 44 crore children below the age of 18 years. A timely roll out of COVID19 vaccines for children will help the nation protect its younger population who are the most vulnerable and have the potential to transmit the virus.
Most adults have either been immunised with 1 or 2 doses or have been naturally infected. Hence boosters can be second priority for adults after children.
A prioritisation process is also being built so that children with co-morbidities will be given priority and healthy children will be vaccinated says a senior health official. However, only timely action will enable the nation to protect the children against possible covid-19 hospitalization and prevent deaths.
This plan will be made public very soon. Covaxin has completed trials and the government is evaluating the studies to give nod to vaccinate children and I will say it again that vaccines will be available in sufficient quantity for children also.
We vaccinate children to protect them against serious illness and death, not to protect them from minor illnesses. It’s the same reason that paediatricians recommend influenza vaccination: to protect and prevent children hospitilisation and mortality. This is true for paediatric vaccines that are recommended globally and required in practically every country. The goal is to keep youngsters alive and healthy by preventing severe disease.
Bharat Biotech has confirmed it has submitted data from its Phase 2 – 3 clinical trials to the Drugs Control General of India (DCGI). The data is from trials that were conducted on children from the 2-18 age group.
COVAXIN was developed against the original Wuhan variant, it has also shown that it can work against other variants, including the delta variant. Says Bharat Biotech
COVID19 Vaccines for Children: COVAXIN clinical trials data of 2-18 years age group submitted to CDSCO
“Covaxin Clinical trials data of 2-18 years age group has been submitted to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO),” the company said.
While BB’s vaccine Covaxin has been approved for adults for over a year, separate trials were needed to be done to ensure the vaccine is also safe for children. The Indian Express reported that the paediatric Covaxin is the same product and presentation as the one being administered to adults.
During Phase 2-3, two doses of the vaccine were administered to 525 children, 28 days apart. The trials were completed in September.
With the emergence of new COVID-19 variant ‘Omicron’, COVID-19 task force chairman Dr NK Arora said that a comprehensive policy on the booster and additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be announced in two weeks. He also said that a plan has been developed to vaccinate over 44 crore children.
“National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) is coming up with a comprehensive policy on the booster and additional doses in the next two weeks. The policy will deal with who will require the vaccine, when and how. This needs to be seen in the context that a new variant is coming and with time only we will get to know more information about it. Therefore relevance and effectiveness of the current vaccines will also become apparent with time only,” said Dr Arora.
“There is a difference between booster dose and additional dose. A booster dose is given in a predefined period after two primary doses. Whereas, an additional dose is only given to those people who have problems with their immune function even after the primary doses. If a person’s immune function is not appropriately built you give them an additional dose. So these are two different things,” he added.
The fact that COVID-19 does not appear to cause substantial disease in immunocompromised kids is a popular argument against vaccination of this age bracket. Thankfully, this holds true when viewed as a percentage of total incidents. This coronavirus has infected approximately six million children in the United States, resulting in 64,000 hospitalizations and 650 fatalities. These figures are insignificant in comparison to the roughly 3,000,000 adult hospitalizations that occurred during the epidemic, resulting in a staggering 718,000 deaths.
Contending that opening of schools is “almost like an emergency” as the children are suffering from “cognitive and intellectual, physical and all sort of social developmental issues”, Dr Arora said, “I would request the whole country this state governments and the private sector schools that schools must be open”.
“Parents should send their children because we have a good a cohort of immunised adults. And special efforts have been made that all schools and staff are immunized. Parents should see that all adults in their families where children are going to school are also immunised, so that children are covered by a ring of protection. In addition to that … most of the children are already infected. So they are protected in a way,” Dr Arora said in a televised interview
The ‘Omicron’ variant (B.1.1.529), a new variant of the coronavirus, was first reported in Botswana on November 11, 2021, and appeared on November 14 in South Africa. It has been declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO).