Experts call for Covid vaccine for U-12 vulnerable kids | India News


PUNE: Doctors and experts have urged the Centre to start Covid vaccinations for at-risk children between five and 11 years of age amid concerns over outbreaks in some countries. Currently, only kids aged 12 and above are included in the immunisation programme.
Covid is usually mild in kids. But in those with underlying conditions, the infection can be harmful. Experts TOI spoke to said vaccinating such children could reduce the risk of severe problems such as multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MISC) and symptoms of “long Covid”.
India already has three Covid vaccines – Corbevax, Covovax and Covaxin – that have received emergency use approvals in children from 5 to 12. The nod means human trials in this bracket have found these shots safe and effective, the experts said.
Dr Pramod Jog, a member of Maharashtra’s paediatric task force, said, “In kids below 12, it would be a prudent step to preferentially vaccinate those with underlying medical conditions, including congenital anomalies, juvenile diabetes, TB, malnutrition, kidney and lung ailments.”
Other high-risk conditions include immuno-compromised stages, renal disease, thalassemia, cancer, long-term steroid usage and obesity.
Many countries are vaccinating children in the 5-11 age group. “Vaccinating young children will help create herd immunity, reduce transmission (spread of virus) risk to elderly at home and lessen chances of new variants emerging,” Jog said.
One particular issue that has worried paediatricians is post-Covid “multi-system inflammatory syndrome” in children or MIS-C. Many Pune hospitals reported a sizeable number of young patients with this condition during the second and third waves.
Children with post-Covid MIS-C — which can strike even a month after exposure — experience severe inflammation of key organs and systems, including heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain and eyes. They may also experience a drop in blood pressure and some may need ICU care.
Dr Sanjay Pujari, an infectious diseases expert, said vaccinating high-risk kids between 5-11 years will cut the risk of severe illness. “This may also reduce incidence of MIS-C and likelihood of long-Covid.”


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