July 09, 2020

Childhood Vaccinations in the Covid-19 Era

Key Concepts

  • Immunisation saves lives – an estimated 2-3 million deaths per year, and protects plenty more children from becoming seriously unwell (WHO)
  •  Immunisations are one of the most successful public health interventions in the last century
  • They are considered an essential health service and should remain a priority 
  • Vaccination means having a vaccine
  • Immunisation means becoming immune to a disease, as a result of being vaccinated
  • Immunisation uses the body’s natural defence mechanism – the immune response – to build resistance to specific infections.

Childhood Vaccinations in the Covid-19 Era

When a person is vaccinated, their body produces an immune response in the same way their body would after exposure to a disease, but without the person suffering symptoms of the disease. When the person comes in contact with that disease in the future, their immune system will respond fast enough to prevent the person developing the disease

  • Herd immunity is the benefit everyone receives from a vaccinated population once enough people are vaccinated. This offers protection for those who are too young or too sick to be immunised as the transmission of the disease is limited in their community

Childhood Vaccinations in the Covid-19 Era

Should you postpone your child’s vaccinations due to the pandemic?

  • NO! Continue to keep up with each child’s routine vaccinations as per the National Immunisation Schedule
  • We know that routine vaccination rates declined in the months following lockdown measures. The CDC’s Vaccine Tracking System data indicated a significant decrease in orders for recommended childhood vaccines during the period of January to April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019
  • Lockdown measures have resulted in movement restrictions and reduced access to routine healthcare visits including immunisation services. The other big reason for the reduction is routine immunisations is parental concern about potential exposure to Covid-19
  • The goal is to prevent the re-emergence of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD) eg measles, diphtheria, whooping cough. Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits or hospitalisations and further strain the healthcare system
  • Preventing a VPD outbreak not only saves lives but requires fewer resources than responding to the outbreak
  • We want to help reduce the burden on a health system already strained by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • When children start to socialise again, there will be an increase in spread of infections. The more we can do to prevent a new infectious disease outbreak, the better our health system will cope, and the individual child will be protected
  • In addition to routine immunisations, we will be recommending the 2020/21 influenza vaccination for everyone age 6 months and older, once it is available in the UAE. This will further minimise the burden of respiratory illness to the individual and to the community

What to do if your child has missed some vaccinations?

  • Speak to your doctor who will make a plan for catch-up of missed vaccinations
  • Generally speaking, it is possible to catch up and complete a vaccination course without restarting the whole series

Do vaccines cause side effects?

  • Vaccines are safe. They are only licenced after meeting high standards of vaccine effectiveness and safety testing, with ongoing stringent monitoring
  • You can expect your child to have mild, self-limiting side effects such as:
    • Fever
    • Irritability or lethargy
    • Redness/soreness at site of injection
    • Risk of anaphylaxis is approximately 1 in 1 million vaccines given
  • These usually resolve in 1-3 days and you can use paracetamol to treat if necessary. If your child is immunocompromised please discuss this with your doctor beforehand

Childhood Vaccinations in the Covid-19 Era

  • There is no evidence that vaccines cause long-term serious illnesses, including autism or autoimmune disease, nor is there any evidence that vaccines cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Childhood Vaccinations in the Covid-19 Era

What strategies are being taken to minimise the risk of novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) transmission during the clinic visits?

  • Strategies to avoid overcrowding
    • spacing out appointments
    • limiting number of people attending child’s appointment
    • practicing social distancing in waiting rooms
  • Infection control measures
    • daily temperature checks for all staff and visitors
    • attention to hand hygiene including use of gloves
    • wearing of masks
    • surface disinfection at regular intervals and between every patient appointment

Recommended Immunisation Schedule

You can talk to your Paediatrician, or the Midwives at our Baby Clinic, about your child’s vaccination schedule

REFERENCES

For further information about our Pediatric services or for appointments, please contact us via telephone: 800 4272 or email: info@healthbayclinic.com

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