Recently many parents are seeking advice from doctors regarding routine vaccination of children in the COVID-19 pandemic. Frequently asked questions are: whether routine vaccination of their children to be continued or not? Some are worried to go to a vaccine centre for vaccination because of COVID-19. Do they need any special precautions?
The World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) have asked everyone to continue regular vaccination as per schedule to prevent vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks in the future.
It is our observation that during the last three months parents are not coming with their child for regular vaccination because of apprehension, that they or their children might get infected with COVID-19, as most of the centres are crowded. Well, a conscious parent may think as such and rightly so, as safety comes first. Now, what to do in this case? A simple answer to it is - please continue the routine vaccination of your child. But government programmes like the national immunisation day or other mass vaccination campaigns are suspended for the time being.
Immunisation is an essential health service that protects susceptible individuals from vaccine-preventable diseases. By providing timely immunisations, individuals and communities remain protected and the likelihood of a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak decreases. Preventing a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak does not only saves lives but also requires fewer resources than responding to the outbreak and helps to reduce the burden on a health system already strained by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some precautions may be taken before going out to the vaccination centre for vaccination such as confirming your date and time of visit earlier over the phone so that you do not need to stay there for a longer period in the queue with your child. Everyone should maintain health hygiene properly. Put on masks as appropriate and maintain social distancing. Leave the place as soon as the job is done. After coming back home from the vaccination centre, remove all the clothing and take a shower.
We all are eagerly waiting for an effective vaccine for COVID-19 and hope that it is invented soon. Until then please stay home, stay safe and continue routine vaccination of your child as per schedule.
The author is a Professor of Paediatrics at Community Based Medical College (CBMC), Mymensingh.