- Delayed vaccination is manageable and not as life-threatening as the current pandemic
- Experts advise parents to immediately prioritise immunisation, post-lockdown; ensure important vaccinations at-birth at the maternity clinic, esp. polio-DTP and measles
April 22, 2020: India and the world today are confronted with an unprecedented global health exigency in the form of COVID-19. During these challenging times, as the lockdown continues, India will see a rise in delayed vaccination cases as a large number of children will be unvaccinated/partially vaccinated. While vaccinations are fundamental to one’s health and life, it is imperative to understand that delay in vaccination caused by the current lockdown due to COVID-19 is unavoidable.
Delay of a vaccine dose may impact the timeline of the subsequent doses, making the child vulnerable to a disease which they would be protected from, if vaccinated. However, experts suggest delayed vaccination is manageable and not as life threatening as the current pandemic. Subsequent vaccine doses have permissible waiting period for interrupted or delayed immunisation as per the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr Vijay Yewale, head of the Institute of Child Health, Apollo Hospital in Mumbai, said, “Amidst COVID, new-born babies are being vaccinated with BCG, OPV 0 and Hepatitis-B at the maternity hospitals which takes care of the initial set of vaccinations. Additionally, we are getting calls from anxious parents on the scheduled immunisation. There have been guidelines issued by the WHO and the Indian Academy of Paediatricians on vaccination during this COVID period. Parents are requested to take necessary precautions and be safe during the pandemic. Now that, the lockdown is extended, vaccinations can be scheduled in consultation with their family paediatrician’s. The set of primary vaccines such as DPT, polio, rotavirus vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine scheduled at six weeks, ten weeks and fourteen weeks of life are important and need to be given as so as possible. Similarly Measles containing vaccine scheduled at 9m of age needs to be given as early as possible. It is also advisable to give flu vaccine.”
“Parents who are waiting to get their child immunised, need to follow proper hygiene habits to help reduce the possibility of infections and consume nutritional food,” added Dr Yewale.
|Precautionary Measures for Parents||Precautionary Measures for Paediatricians|
|Make prior appointments with your paediatrician and follow social distancing||HCPs should wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits while vaccinating|
|Ensure your child does not have influenza like symptoms||Schedule consults for healthy and unwell babies separately|
|Limit the child’s companion to just one caregiver||Do not delay birth doses (BCG, OPV, Hepatitis B Birth dose), infant six week doses, rotavirus vaccine, Influenza/PCV vaccine, Measles vaccine, Rabies HPV 2nd dose and varicella|
|Post exposure to rabies or injuries requiring tetanus: avoid delay and vaccinate immediately||Minor consultations can be done over the phone and do not expose the baby unnecessarily|
|Infected or quarantined mothers to get their children vaccinated, on advice of their treating physician||HCPs should be cleared from symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 before attending to the patient|
|Delegate immunisation tasks to colleagues who are unexposed to COVID-19 related duties|
|HCPs with multiple practice sites to consider using one location for immunisation|
This period of lockdown will require parents and doctors to work together to arrive at the right time and place to administer the vaccine. It is also advisable to stay informed about delayed immunisation through credible medical sources and have faith in doctors & the healthcare system.
Read more from the Health Issues India press office here.