Health

Attention parents: Your quick guide to vaccinations in a pandemic

Vaccinations during the Coronavirus pandemic can be a stressful experience for parents. Is it safe to go to the doctor? What precautions should we take? Paediatricians and mom bloggers talk about what to keep in mind when stepping out to the doctor's clinic with little ones.

From the paediatrician’s POV

“Vaccinations are of two kinds: primary and optional. The primary vaccines must be given on time. These are the ones administered within the first year,” says Dr P Satheesh, paediatrician and neonatologist based in Visakhapatnam. “If your area is a containment zone, stay at home and delay it for a few days. If the lockdown is not lifted, consult your doctor to evaluate how long can you wait,” he adds.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF have warned of an alarming decline in the number of children receiving life-saving vaccines around the world. Preliminary data for the first four months of 2020 indicates a substantial drop in the number of children completing three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) — the first time in 28 years.

According to Dr Satheesh, there was a drastic drop in vaccinations in the first two months following the lockdown. “Even now just about 20% of the regular numbers are coming for vaccinations,” he says. He advises parents to maintain physical distance and spend minimal time in the clinic — you could stand outside the clinic or stay in the car until your turn comes. In case of regular check-ups and minor issues, ask if your doctor will consult through video calls.

From a parent’s POV

Check how often your paediatric clinic disinfects its premises, and if they use disposable sheets and gloves for every baby.

If your paediatrician practises in a hospital, ask if they have exclusive vaccination rooms segregated from the hospital/nursing rooms, and a separate entrance and exit.

Look for a paediatrician who encourages minimal time spent in the vaccination room and administers the oral polio virus vaccine at an open space outside the room. “This ensures the child and caretaker spend as little time as possible in the enclosed vaccination room to minimise the chance of any infection,” says Visakhapatnam-based paediatrician Dr Ashok Kolluru.

List of vaccines
  • BCG, OPV and Hepatitis B vaccines for newborns
  • DPT, Hep B, Hib, OPV/IPV, Rotavirus vaccines, PCV, Influenza, Varicella and MR/MMR
  • Typhoid conjugate vaccines may be clubbed with the influenza vaccine at six months or MR/MMR at 9 months
  • Hepatitis A vaccines and HPV vaccines may be postponed to a later date if need be. They may be administered after the priority vaccines have been given

He also says it’s best the seniors not accompany your child, and that children above the age of two wear a surgical or a cloth mask when visiting the clinic.

In times of a pandemic, vaccinations are given only by appointment; so make sure you get one well ahead of time. “Try getting there in the first half of the day and preferably in the middle of a week. The rush is comparatively lesser,” says Shubhreet Kaur, a mom blogger based in Mumbai.

When Shubhreet’s husband Karan last visited the clinic, he carried a jhola instead of a diaper bag. “This way, you don’t have to place the bag on any surface. Also carry just the basics: vaccination file, extra diaper, wipes, and a sanitiser,” says Shubhreet, who posts regular updates on her parenting journey on Instagram.

Deepthi Menon, a Bengaluru-based anaesthetist and mother of an 18-month-old, suggests carrying the child’s favourite toy, or better still bringing alone a new toy to the clinic, when going with a toddler. “They are usually fidgety and like exploring their surroundings. If you can occupy your child with a toy, they will be less likely to be distracted and touch toys or other surfaces at the clinic.”

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 5:06:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/attention-parents-your-quick-guide-to-vaccinations-in-a-pandemic/article32183660.ece

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