Parents in Karnataka not keen on getting teens jabbed

Covid-19: Parents in Karnataka not too keen on getting teens jabbed

In Karnataka, 92 deaths have been reported among children aged 0 to 17 years due to Covid-19, since the start of the pandemic

A beneficiary receives a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Bengaluru. Credit: DH File Photo/Pushkar V

The announcement of vaccinations for children aged 15 to 17 years has evinced mixed reaction from parents and even caution from certain experts.

Several parents, while speaking to DH, said they were not confident about vaccinating their kids due to a lack of trial data and rumours about side-effects. 

“There are many forwarded messages on social media about the possible adverse effects on children because of the vaccination. I am not willing to get my 16-year-old daughter vaccinated,” one parent said.

Going by scientific evidence, however, Dr Jayaprakash Muliyil, chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology, said child vaccines were unnecessary.

Also Read | Karnataka has to vaccinate 31.75 lakh teens, 15.31 lakh comorbid elderly

“Covid-19 does not cause severity of infection in most paediatric cases. Furthermore, out of all cases of mortality we examined, death was largely caused by comorbid conditions. Data shows there have not been deaths of children below the age of 12 years that is directly attributable to complications arising out of Covid-19,” Dr Muliyil said. 

In Karnataka, 92 deaths have been reported among children aged 0 to 17 years due to Covid-19, since the start of the pandemic. Out of these, 26 were children aged 15 to 17 years. 

Another 57 were below the age of 12 years. However, an assessment about the actual causes of death has not been disclosed by the government.

This mortality quotient means vaccinations are necessary especially for older children, said Dr Asha Benakappa, head of the department of paediatrics, Chandramma Dayananda Sagar Institute of Medical Education and Research.

“Children above the age of 15 are as vulnerable to disease as adults. Vaccination must be taken as we still haven’t fully understood the novel coronavirus,” she said.

However, some parents pointed to brisk vaccine trials as not instilling confidence. 

“As per my knowledge, the trials of the vaccinations only lasted for a few months whereas other vaccines are put through at least a decade of trials before releasing into the market. We, parents, have the right to decide and hope the government will not make it mandatory,” said Shamsheer Ahmed, the parent of a 15-year-old.

A paucity of trial data, especially regarding Covaxin, is a matter of concern, said Dr Srikanta J T, a paediatrician at Aster CMI hospital and a member of the third wave committee. “These vaccines have been tested primarily against clinical cases with moderate or severe disease - which is not common in kids. On top of this, the experience of vaccines already in use in adolescents suggests that the risk of rare adverse events is relatively higher in adolescents than in adults,” Dr Srikanta said.  

He also pointed out that Covaxin doses to be given to children will be the same as those given to adults: 0.5 ml dose (twice). “Parents must keep in mind that, for paediatric cases, the doses must be given exactly 28 days apart. Any delay in the second dose will mean poor antibody generation,” he added.

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